News and Tribune

March 2012 tornado coverage

June 13, 2012

A snapshot of perseverance: Clapp family sorting through their lives post-tornado

MARYSVILLE — In the March 19 issue of Time Magazine, a photo was published showing the devastating aftermath of the tornadoes that had ripped apart the small town of Marysville earlier that month.

The photographer captured an image of indiscernible shredded metal wrapped around a broken old tree, an American flag haphazardly hung to the side. Newly fallen snow shrouded the objects in a light white blanket.

For Marysville residents Lisa and Michael Clapp, the photograph that astounded the world depicted only a small part of their new reality. The twisted heap shown was the trailer to the semi Michael drove as an independent truck driver. It had been parked on property they own in town, an area that sustained a direct hit. The door of the trailer now stands as a makeshift memorial, the words “Lord through these bad times and the good, I should praise you like I should” emblazoned on the steel even before the tornadoes struck.

But the destruction of Michael’s livelihood is only a small part of the couple’s story. Three months after the storms, the Clapp family lives in a mobile home provided by their insurance company. Just outside its doors used to lie the shell of their house that was shaken beyond repair by the tornadoes. A barn was also lost along with several rabbits.

“This tornado was at least a mile high and a half-mile wide on the bottom,” Michael said. “There were people who were seeing tails shooting out like lightning strikes. By the time it got to Marysville, it was just a big black swirl on the ground. When it got closer, that’s when I got in.”


Somehow, Lisa, Michael and their 5-year-old granddaughter, Aiden Stewart, survived the passing twisters by seeking shelter in their metal work building’s small wooden tool room just outside their house. The huge doors rose up off the structure, but the room held together, keeping all inside safe.

“Aiden, she describes the noise as her brother’s Little League baseball team taking metal bats and hitting the building just as hard and as fast as they can,” Lisa said.

The duration of the storm surprised both Lisa and Michael. At 3:23 p.m., the first of several tornadoes struck their house, knocking the batteries out of a clock that gave testament to the timeline of events.

“I’ve been led to believe that there was the big one, and then two more that followed at two-minute intervals. The winds never let up. This was at least a five-minute thing,” Michael said.

“It lasted forever,” Lisa added.

Immediately following the tornadoes, help began to arrive, for which the family is still thankful. Volunteers built them a storage shed. Lisa said at least 1,000 hands petted her dogs as they traveled from afar to assist those in need.

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