Home improvement store to replace tornado victim’s windows

HARRISON TWP. — A Miami Valley Veteran whose home was damaged during the Memorial Day tornado outbreak is getting help from a home improvement store.

News Center 7 and the Dayton Daily News first introduced 83-year-old Elmo Blanken last week.

He got a new roof, but had no windows heading into winter.

>> Tornado survivor's house missing windows as temperatures dip

But now one store is making sure Blanken isn’t left in the cold.

He said Lowe’s Home Improvement is making sure he’s not only warm physically, but also emotionally.

A retired bricklayer and Air Force veteran, Blanken still hasn’t slowed down.

He’s a clock collector, former fisherman and the handyman of his neighborhood.

Blanken is known for fixing lawn mowers — a reputation he’s had since he moved into his Nothridge home in 1967.

While he’s used to helping others, he’s not always comfortable receiving it.

He was shocked to hear that Lowe’s wanted to replace his windows.

>> VIDEOS: Tornadoes cause extensive damage across Dayton region

When Jeremy Austin, a manager at Lower’s, heard Blanken’s story from another employee, he said he had to help.

“I was out here within just a few minutes,” Austin said. “Elmo and me spent some time together, and the more I got to talking to him,  I mean he’s just a great guy. I just asked him to come over for Thanksgiving dinner.”

Lowe’s offered to replace not only the missing windows, but all the windows in the house.

With extra assistance through the HOME Program, which stands for Honoring Our Military Everyday, Lowe’s also will replace Blanken’s back porch that was destroyed by the tornado.

Blanken said he doesn’t ask for much, but he’s thankful for the help and outpouring of support from his community.

“I didn’t know there were so many people that cared,” he said.

“I think the biggest thing is just remembering that we can be much bigger than ourselves and the smallest thing that we can do to help someone else can have huge rewards,” Austin said.

Assistance is still available for others in situations similar to Blanken. Residents needing help recovering from the tornadoes should call the United Way helpline at 211.