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Lichfield woman launches fundraising campaign after family’s home in the USA is destroyed by a tornado

A Lichfield businesswoman has launched an emergency fundraising campaign to help her family whose home and business have been destroyed by a devastating tornado.

Jess Davanzo, of Square Peg Promotions, said it was “a miracle” her family had survived the storm which ripped through their farm in Tennessee, Kentucky, on Saturday (February 24), flattening buildings and killing their horses.

The damaged family home in Kentucky

The damaged family home in Kentucky

The 35-year-old business owner, who grew up on the farm and moved to Lichfield in 2010, was on holiday with her mother in Madeira when she got the shock news on Sunday.

The destroyed barn

The destroyed barn

“The tornado destroyed everything but miraculously my grandma, my brother and his eight-month pregnant fiancé survived,” said Jess. “Rescue crews were amazed they got out alive.

“Sadly the animals weren’t so lucky. Two of my brother’s horses were found dead on a neighbour’s roof and ten more are badly injured. My brother is heartbroken. He takes in sick and injured animals and nurses them back to health so they won’t be insured.”

Jess Davanzo

Jess Davanzo

Jess said her 78-year-old grandmother, Wy Lattus, had locked herself in a cupboard with six dogs to escape the carnage caused by winds of more than 100mph.

“The roof was coming off the house and the rescue crews said that if the storm had lasted a moment longer there’s no way she would have survived,” added Jess.

“I was on holiday with Mum but we’d only been away a couple of days when Mum had to get an emergency flight back home.

“Now they’re trying desperately to clear up the wreckage. Everything needs to be rebuilt so I’m trying to help by raising some funds to assist with the vet bills.”

Speaking on Kentucky TV news Wy said: “I’d seen things like this on television but I never thought I’d experience it. I looked out afterwards and thought ‘where do I start’?

“We don’t have anything left, except our lives, which is the most important thing.”

While waiting for a flight home from Madeira, Jess launched a £5,000 fundraising campaign to try to help.

With the help of friends and local business networking groups she’s managed to raise more than £700 so far.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d get much response but local people have been unbelievably kind,” said Jess. “I can’t thank them enough.”

To donate to the appeal visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lattusdavanzotornadorelief

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