Family helps others at home after tornado
GIFFORD — Tim Dillman has been all over the country for relief help.
It's part of the job for the Gifford resident, whose duties with AT&T include managing maintenance of facilities.
"I've been to Louisiana after Katrina, to the east coast and to the west coast," Dillman said. "AT&T sent groups of 40 to 60 employes to rebuild the phone networks in those towns."
This week, he has been on the job in a different capacity.
"This is a Frontier (phone) area, so they have their own crews," Dillman said.
Since Sunday, the Dillmans have been volunteering. Their home on the south side of the village was spared of damage. Nephew Adam Pannbacker's family — who lived near the center of town — lost everything.
"I've shown up with restoration crews (throughout the country) to go to work and it didn't hit me as hard," Dillman said. "I didn't know the people. I did it to help.
"It's totally different when your own community is devastated. When you see your friends' houses and their pile of rubble, it brings you to tears."
The Dillmans were able to stay in their home all week, using a generator to keep warm. They had plenty of company.
"We had 14 or 15 (family or friends) sleep at our house," Dillman said. "Everyone found a couch or a bed."
Dillman's 11-year-old son, Casey, had one of the week's most poignant comments. After viewing the unimaginable damage within three blocks of his own home, he felt weird realizing his own residence was undamaged.
"It really hit him," Tim Dillman said, "and he said, 'that's not really fair.'"
For the Dillmans, that meant one thing. "We can focus on helping someone else who needs it," Tim Dillman said.