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Cloverdale ready to run down road to recovery PDF Print
Friday, March 21, 2014 8:19 PM


Staff Writer

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CLOVERDALE — A little over four months ago, a tornado ripped through the heart of Cloverdale and while it damaged over half the houses and some community buildings, the heart of the 168 villagers has proven its strength.

On Nov. 17, 2013, Cloverdale sat in the path of an EF-2 tornado. In its wake, 14 homes and St. Barbara’s Catholic Church were demolished after being deemed a total loss. More demolitions are pending as insurance companies work with homeowners.


“You don’t realize how much devastation can be caused by 15 seconds of hell,” Cloverdale Mayor Judd Spencer said.


The snow helped cover up some of the ugliness the tornado left behind. The melting of the snow has uncovered the debris and reminded the village residents there is still a lot to do.

Larry Sroufe, lifetime Cloverdale resident and Spencer’s father-in-law, has taken advantage of the recent weather to get his home rebuilding underway. Sroufe, whose house had to be mostly gutted, has lived in an apartment in Ottoville since the tornado and has hopes to be back in his 25-year home in June.

“Yesterday just the foundation was down, now the walls are up, but it’ll never be back to what it was,” Sroufe said.

“It’s bittersweet,” Spencer said. “We’re ready for the weather to get better so we can get started but now you can really see all the damage that was done and the debris that’s still left.”

Before the snow hit, 220 loads of debris were hauled out of the town. Spencer thinks there is about 40 loads of debris that still need to be hauled out. Then he wants to focus on individual needs.

“We can’t financially help individuals as a government but we certainly can help as a friend,” Spencer said.

The town has bonded together to help each other rebuild. Even as some have finished the rebuilding of their own homes, they move on to help others rebuild.

“It means so much to be mayor of a community that is so tight knit,” he said. “Residents have grouped together to get things done together and its a warming feeling to be part of it.”

Others from outside Cloverdale have also given a helping hand.

“A lot of people came over and helped right after it happened, probably around 200 people helped,” Sroufe said.

Volunteers came from all around the area and from places as far as Fort Wayne, Ind., and Dayton, Spencer said.

“As the months go by, I’d like to have more fundraisers so that hopefully by mid-summer, we can start the recovery process rather than just rebuilding,” Spencer said.

One of these fundraisers will be April 5, sponsored by the Ottoville Mother’s Club and the Cloverdale Recovery Task Force.

The Ottoville Mother’s Club has organized a fundraising event, each for a different cause, for the past five years.

“Every year we want to help families who have been impacted by tragedy,” Michelle Kortokrax, vice president of the club said.

Helping the families of Cloverdale in their recovery efforts seemed like the logical choice this year, she said.

“We’re hoping to impact a lot of families this year instead of just one,” Kortokrax said.

The club teamed up with the Cloverdale Recovery Task Force, which has distributed more than $30,000 and aid to those impacted by the tornado, to organize the event.

The main event is a 5K run/walk and Kids Fun Run with the 5K starting at 11 a.m. and the fun run at noon at the Ottoville Park in Ottoville. Participants are encouraged to pre-register by Tuesday but race day registration is allowed starting at 9:30 a.m.

Race entry forms can be picked up at the Ottoville Post Office or they can be downloaded at

Runners can collect $100 in donations to receive a free T-shirt and free race entry fee or collect $50 to get the free T-shirt but must still pay the race entry fee.

There are several opportunities for those who are not runners and walkers to show their support as well.

Individuals who collect $50 in donations can earn a free T-shirt by completing a race entry form and submitting their T-shirt size. All shirts should be picked up from 8 a.m.-noon the day of the run in the Ottoville Parish Center Gymnasium.

There will also be a BBQ chicken dinner on race day. Tickets, which are $7.50, must be purchased by Tuesday and are available at the following locations in Ottoville: Express Mart, Fort Jennings State Bank, Main Street Market and The Ottoville Bank Co.

A silent auction, bake sale and 50/50 drawing will also take place during the morning. Donations are being accepted for the auction and individuals or businesses wanting to donate can contact Marilyn Calvelage at 419-605-7897 or Ryan Densmore at 419-796-7079.

Baked goods are also welcome and can be dropped off at the Ottoville Parish Center Fitness Room from 6-9 p.m. April 4 or starting at 8 a.m. April 5.

To make a cash donation, send a check payable to “Cloverdale 5K” and mail to Tammy Saxton, 18321 Road R24, Fort Jennings OH 45844. Donations can be deposited directly at The Ottoville Bank as well.

Spencer hopes that the 5K will bring large support for the residents still working to rebuild.

“Everyone here has a positive attitude,” he said. “That speaks a lot on how well this is going to go. When people could be moping around about what they’ve lost, I don’t see any of that. I see people on the edge of their seat ready to get started when the weather breaks.”

Last Updated on Sunday, March 23, 2014 10:24 AM

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