Witnesses recount powerful Celina storms

A pile of debris sits across the street from a Dollar General store destroyed by a tornado in Celina November 6th, 2017.

CELINA, Ohio (WDTN) – Eyewitnesses who experienced Sunday’s storms here say it’s something they’ll never forget.

Tom and Matt Massalsky were at their Celina home Sunday afternoon when they say the skies turned dark. When they heard the tornado watch issued for Mercer County, the father and son went outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the storm.

Matt Massalsky said, “In my head I was thinking, ‘Man I hope this doesn’t hurt nobody,’ but I’ve always wanted to see a tornado.”

Matt took out his phone and captured a funnel about a mile away coming from south of the town. It was one of two twisters to hit Mercer County Sunday afternoon.

Matt’s father Tom Massalsky said, “It sounded like a freight train right above us. It was right up there. That was kind of scary.”

Both twisters missed the Massalskys’ house, but they tore through businesses on nearby Havemann Road.

Monday, workers were cleaning up downed power lines on cars, insulation, broken glass and stray sheet metal torn from the roof of Dollar General.

Susan Flynn and Jenna Douglas were eating a late lunch at the C-Town Restaurant when storms ripped through the area.

“It was like a couple of minutes later we heard a roaring sound like a freight train and that’s when it hit,” said Flynn. “We huddled down in the corner of the bathroom because we figured it would be the safest place, but it was so terrifying.”

The two women could hear breaking glass and screaming from the restaurant’s dining room. They said the whole ordeal lasted only several minutes but it felt like an eternity.

Douglas said, “I thought that was going to be the last day of my life, I wouldn’t live to see another day. It was definitely very scary.”

Paramedics treated eight people for injuries. None of those were life-threatening.
While the town continues assessing damages and facing massive cleanup those who experienced some of the worst of it say the storm will leave an even longer lasting impact on their lives.

“It lasted a few minutes or so, but enough to make you think about life and how precious life is,” said Flynn. “It’s made us closer.”

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