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Community responds to twister damage

Story and photos by Jeanne Sager
Posted 4/28/23

CALLICOON CENTER — When Kelly Schadt-Kelly looked around her Callicoon Center home the day after an EF2 tornado tore through the area, what she saw wasn’t just the holes in her roof, the …

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Community responds to twister damage


CALLICOON CENTER — When Kelly Schadt-Kelly looked around her Callicoon Center home the day after an EF2 tornado tore through the area, what she saw wasn’t just the holes in her roof, the damage to her garage or the dozens of downed trees that had changed her property forever. Everywhere Schadt-Kelly looked, she saw friends and family rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. 

“What’s remarkable is that we didn’t have to call anyone,” the resident of one of the communities hardest hit by the tornado said. 

Instead, people simply arrived when they heard the family’s home on Hessinger-Lare Road had been hit. 

“[They] came that morning with heavy equipment like excavators, chainsaws, and trucks, as well as tarps and tools to take care of so many things that needed to be fixed — the roof to the garage and house, cut up fallen trees and take down dangerous ones, bring diesel fuel, and pick up debris and take it away,” Schadt-Kelly said. 

The thread of community has been a strong one in the past week. 

Volunteer firefighters were out en masse over the weekend, not just closing roads that downed trees and utility wires had made impassable but checking on people to ensure they were okay and offer assistance. Callicoon Center Fire Chief Austin Ihlefeldt estimates his own crew of volunteers was out for two straight days with a dozen more members of the Youngsville Fire Department assisting. The story was the same up the road for members of the Roscoe-Rockland Fire Department. 

Meanwhile donations and help has poured in at the hard hit Apple Pond Farm, where the main barn and at least a half dozen smaller buildings were destroyed by the powerful twister. A meal train was set up to provide owners Sonja Hedlund and Dick Riseling with food even while their electric was out and volunteers quickly stepped up to guarantee weeks worth of meals. 

Meanwhile volunteers arrived with work gloves, chainsaws and more to do the physical labor necessary to clean up acres of devastation. 

Fellow farmer Scott Conley was one of countless volunteers on the site in the hours after the storm hit, helping to get the farm’s well back online so Hedlund and Riseling could provide water to their animals. 

Later Conley turned to the Internet to set up a GoFundMe for Hedlund and Riseling and has been overwhelmed in the response. 

“We started with a goal of $10,000, and we met that within six or seven hours,”

Conley said. “We’ve just had a wonderful response ... we’re kind of overwhelmed.”

“It just goes to show what an important member of the community she is,” he said of Hedlund. 

Conley raised the goal to $50,000 at that point, and as of presstime the fundraiser is nearing its goal but still open. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/f/apple-pond-farm.

Schadt-Kelly too is overwhelmed, but not simply because of the work at hand to bring the home she shares with husband Mike and son Quinlan back in order. 

“Mike and I are amazed at how generous and selfless our network is. If it wasn’t for this isolated and rare event, I may never have known how much people care about us and the extent that they will go through for us,” she noted. “We both find ourselves on the verge of tears not only because of the amount of damage to our property, but because of the outpouring of love and support we are receiving and are forever grateful for.”


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