South Bend homeowner rebuilding after tornado destroyed her garage

NOW: South Bend homeowner rebuilding after tornado destroyed her garage


Growing Kids Learning Center is visible from the cement slab where Shirley Wurtsbaugh's garage once stood.

A fallen tree in Wurtsbaugh's backyard.

The cement slab where Wurtsbaugh's garage once stood.

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—A longtime South Bend homeowner is in the process of rebuilding after Sunday’s tornado replaced her garage with a backyard littered with debris and broken trees.

Shirley Wurtsbaugh, 75, and her husband have lived on Lamar Street for over 20 years. On Sunday, they were not home when an EF-2 tornado struck her area and caused damage to her property.

“It’s something you see on TV but it doesn’t happen to you,” Wurtsbaugh said. “One tree was a huge blackberry tree, huge, and now it’s like a stick but it’s just total devastation. You know, tornadoes just don’t pick a good date do they.”

The Growing Kids Learning Center on Ireland Road sustained significant damage during the storm and at the time of this writing, remained closed while repairs are underway.

At Wurtsbaugh’s home, which backs up to the Growing Kids Learning Center, work continued Wednesday to clean up downed trees and debris. A few pieces of furniture remained on the cement slab where her garage once stood.

“I don’t even know the count on how many trees are down, one tree was on our house and sun room, two trees took out our shed, and the tornado took our garage away,” Wurtsbaugh said.

Wurtsbaugh has been without power since Sunday night, as the tornado caused damage to her electrical box. She and her husband were able to spend a couple of nights in a hotel thanks to their insurance, but now they’re back in their home.

Indiana Michigan Power on Wednesday said that all I&M customers who were without power due to the storm have since been restored. However, the company explained that only those able to have power restored have been able to get it turned back on.

In Wurtsbaugh’s case, she says she must have an electrician and an inspector come out before her power can be turned back on.

For Wurtsbaugh, she says one of the hardest parts of cleanup has been the combination of hot temperatures and no access to a fridge or freezer.

“People don’t realize if they’d bring water, if they would bring ice, coordinate to bring us a meal, it’s just been so hard on the workers because they’re not young kids,” Wurtsbaugh said.

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