PORTLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Neighbors and strangers alike came together Monday night to help each other clean up after a tornado ripped through Portland.
Words like “surreal” and “shocked” were said alongside words like “awesome” when people described how they felt in the aftermath of the storm.
“I’m just kind of shook up and shocked by it all,” said Corey Gloden, whose parents’ home was hit hard by the storm.
In the same breath, he praised people helping him clean up. “I don’t even know these people, and they’re coming picking stuff out of my yard, it’s awesome,” he said.
A tree fell on Gloden’s parents’ home, as did what appeared to be the steeple of the nearby First Congregational Church.
“All the wood there,” Gloden said, pointing to the back of the home, “is from the steeple on the church that they just put up.”
Steve Tienann and Cole Payne were two of those helping people they didn’t even know. The Eagle Scouts live nearly 10 miles outside of Portland, which on Monday was a world away.
“It’s just, it’s pretty sad to see all this, but anything to help out really,” said Payne.
They handed out water and used a chainsaw to help cut down branches and clear brush, routinely answering the same question.
“Mainly what group we were with, department, company. Um… Boy Scouts,” said Tiennan.
The teens graduated from school in Portland. Even though they don’t live there, they feel part of the community,
“It’s just part of feeling that you’ve given back to your community you’ve lived in literally your entire life,” said Tiennan. “When you drive in and it looks like a bomb went off. The church over there it literally looks like somebody dropped a bomb on it.”
Three churches in Portland, the First Baptist Church, United Methodist Church and the First Congregational Church, each now have roofs open to the heavens.
There are fears Monday night that since the steeple on the First Baptist Church is cracked, it may collapse if Portland is hit with another weather event. The church has stood, parishioners told 24 Hour News 8, for 175 years.