Woman trapped when roof collapses in tornado


KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kentwood woman was pinned when the roof of her home fell in during Sunday night’s tornado.

It happened at Leisure Acres, a condominium community for retirees located just off Eastern Avenue near 52nd Street.

Dianne Balent's storm-damaged home in Kentwood. (July 7, 2014)
(Dianne Balent’s storm-damaged home in Kentwood. July 7, 2014)

Dianne Balent said she was sitting on her couch around 10:30 p.m. Sunday when the storm started to roll through.

“It just started raining. It was only raining for a few minutes. I closed the front window and I heard this voom voom, and I went and sat down on the couch because I saw everything flying by the window,” she said.

Then the roof collapsed, drywall and two-by-fours falling on her.

“It happened so quick. There was no warning, no nothing. All of a sudden, you are on the floor with your house on top of you,” Balent said.

She was hit the head and began to bleed, and she couldn’t get up.

“I was pinned right in the corner. I couldn’t move. Those things weigh a ton,” she said. “I thought, ‘If anything else falls in on me, I’m going to be dead,’ because I couldn’t move anything and I was looking up at the ceiling. And I thought, ‘That’s all hanging there and if that goes, this is the end of me.’”

She started yelling for help. Luckily, a neighbor heard her.

“She was just hollering, ‘Help, help. I can’t get out,’” Balent’s neighbor recalled.

But the neighbor couldn’t get Balent out — debris was blocking the doors into the house.

It was about half an hour before the fire department was able to reach Balent’s home. It was dark and there were downed trees and power lines blocking the roads. Firefighters then had to cut down her door to rescue her.

But eventually, they got her.

“I was holding on to to him (the firefighter) so tight, the poor guy,” Balent said.

She was taken to the hospital, where she needed to get eight staples. She also has some bruises, but is expected to be OK.

She said she’s thankful to be alive.

“Thankful that God was looking out for me and that I got good friends to stay with,” she said.

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