Family Loses Everything In Elbert County Tornado

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Emergency responders were busy in Elbert County Thursday night. When the tornadic thunderstorms finally subsided, 32 homes had suffered moderate to severe damage.

One home and outbuilding on County Road 82 is considered a total loss. The residents, Mark and Debbie Studer, sheltered themselves with their dog in the basement and escaped the storm uninjured.

They showed 11 News the damage and it’s not a pretty sight. There’s almost nothing salvageable from their home after the tornado ripped through tearing the house apart.

"It was like an absence of air and a real strong explosion, the sliding glass door down there, that exploded and when it did, the whole was just an amazingly loud noise," Mark said.

Mark and Debbie told us they were watching 11 News right before the tornado struck.

“(Brian Bledsoe) said, if you’re in the Ramah area, take cover. And we did,” Debbie said.

Friday, they were back to assess the damage in the light of day. Mark showed us the extensive destruction and where they were in the basement when the twister hit.

"Everything’s gone. We didn't know how bad it was until we started getting wet down there (in the basement) and I looked up and the roof wasn't there," Mark said.

Debbie was born in Denver in that now destroyed house. Her father had the home taken apart, moved, and rebuilt near the family homestead in Ramah.

"We just don't know what to do now," Mark said.

Walking through the broken glass and wooden-pylons that were tossed around like toothpicks, Mark told us all things considered, they're lucky.

"We feel lucky, because of the warning on TV. Had it not been for that, we would've been...she'd be sitting in that chair, and you’ve seen the rafters hit that chair, it would've hit her in the head," Mark said.

Their livestock survived as well. They have several cows, 29 chickens, a dog and cat, all of them accounted for.

A fund to assist the Studer Family is being established at the Farmers State Bank located at 458 Colorado Ave. in Calhan, or by phone (719) 347-2727. The Red Cross is also offering assistance to that family and any other hit by the storm.

Elbert County also reports that personnel with the Office of Emergency Management helped land owners to repair fences to ensure no livestock could escape. Downed power lines in the area are now repaired by Mountain View Electric crews.

One lingering remnant of the storm is flood waters on County Road 113. It is closed off of Highway 24, but alternate access is available through County Road 117.