A shelter in the time of storm
YATES TWP. — With two tornadoes confirmed in Lake County on the evening of Aug. 28, some families became stranded and trapped. Julie Simmons was trying to brave the storm with seven children in her Yates Township home.
“Me and the kids, seven altogether, (ages 13 to 3), were at home when the storm came through. The fallen trees were like a dome around us and there were electric lines down over the house," she said. "Yates Township Fire Chief John Barnett and his crew helped us get to Forman Road going through a maze of trees. Duane Roberts picked us up with the school van to bring us to the emergency shelter at the school."
Barnett and the Yates Township Fire Department were working around the clock to see if people were trapped in homes due to storm damage, cutting paths through trees.
“We ran across a young woman with seven young children. We sent the firefighters there, and they carried each child in their arms,” he said. “The whole road was blocked. We had to go through the woods to get to her. The lady was crying and couldn’t take it anymore. Her babies were hollering, ‘I’m thirsty.’ We were able to make sure they got to shelter.”
Simmons and children found the shelter to be a haven.
"The kids were having a great time at the shelter. I was crying and they were trying to cheer me up," she said, adding the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were on hand, providing basic needs such as meals and bedding.
The next day, Simmons and the children tried going back home.
“We went back to the house for a while, and it was like a bad tornado came and smacked a tree on the house, and it was like a tornado was in my house too, from the kids. We tried to stay until we ran out of water," she said.
Thirteen-year-old Yasmine Carter, one of the seven children, said the situation was scary and brought back memories of when she went through Hurricane Harvey last year.
“It was kind of scary, because I went through Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Even though it was a different kind of storm, it was still a disaster situation. It brings back those memories," she said.
Simmons' daughter, 12-year-old Krista Simmons, recalled her experience from the storm.
“I was scared. At first I thought my mom was joking about a tornado, because she jokes around a lot, but I looked outside and was like, whoa. We took shelter and got in the bathtub and protected our heads with pillows,” she said.