Remembering Arnie Allen, Smithfield tornado victim

Arnie Allen

Family and friends are gathering to remember Arnie Allen who was killed last week in a tornado in Madison County.

The 53-year-old and his dog died when the tornado picked up his home, carried it 150 to 200 yards into the air and sent it crashing down onto another home.

It has been an incredibly painful time for his family. As the minutes tick by, so do the memories, clicking in and out of Debbie Walters' mind. "He meant everything. He was a protective big brother. I was his only little sister and he's going to be greatly missed," Walters said.

It is just a piece of stone, hand crafted into a clock for his older sister Cindy Clark. "It's very personal to me because he gave that to me three years ago and it's something he made and it's Arnie," Clark said. Outside her home sits yet another memory of her brother Arnie. The stone steps leading into her house, layer by layer, were created by her baby brother.

For his sisters, those memories are now locked in their minds as they try to hold onto the good times. "We went up there and it was just devastating," Walters said. Nearly one week ago, their world was turned upside down as a tornado swirled through Arnie's Smithfield neighborhood. The twister picked up his house by the foundation, leaving nothing behind. "We were just trying to clean through the rubble of what was left of the house, just looking for any sentimental value," Clark said.

Amid the rubble were some old black and white photos from their childhood and pieces of Arnie's coin collection. Pieces of his life left behind for them to hold onto. They are moments in time to pass along to his 19-year-old son Austin who will now come to know life without his father. "The whole community has been coming through. We are just overwhelmed with everybody's love and support and prayers. It's been wonderful," Clark said.

A fundraiser has been set up to help Austin get back on his feet. Click here to donate.

Calling hours for Arnie Allen will be held Monday from 4-8 p.m. at the Homer Ball Funeral Home on James Street in Canastota. His funeral will be held at the funeral home at 11 a.m. On Tuesday.

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