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Rebuilding: The Insured, The Amish, And The Unlucky With PM-Tornadoes Rdp Bjt

June 3, 1985

ATLANTIC, Pa. (AP) _ The Amish don’t carry insurance against disasters such as the killer tornadoes that splintered homes across northwestern Pennsylvania, but Atlantic’s 26 Amish families plan to begin rebuilding immediately, with a little help from their brethren.

″Most of the barns would have to be done before too long for grain and hay and cattle. We figure to begin as quickly as possible,″ said Edward D. Yoder, 58, bishop for one of the two Amish congregations in this Crawford County community.

In the non-mechanized, self-help world of the Amish, insurance comes not in the form of written agreements but in a spiritual covenant among friends.

″When something like this happens, we call Spartansburg, Punxsutawney, Troutville, Middlefield, New Wilmington, Mercer and we all get together,″ Yoder said.

″Some call it a bee. We say frolly. Everybody brings eats and we all go to work,″ said Yoder, a man with thick, strong fingers and a gentle handshake.

The Amish, sometimes called Pennsylvania Dutch, are members of a strict sect of Mennonites founded in the 17th century.

They are clean-living, hard-working people who were attracted to Atlantic for its good soil, on which they raise grain, vegetables, dairy cattle and pigs. They shun mechanized conveniences and rely on no one but God and themselves.

″They’ll be rebuilt by the end of summer,″ non-Amish neighbor George Ball said Saturday, taking a break from the work of clearing the wreckage of the home he bought three years ago.

″I don’t know what I’m going to do,″ he said. ″I’m not covered.″

Ball said he was trying to have his homeowner’s insurance reinstated when the vicious twisters struck Friday. ″They canceled me a month or two ago. They sent my check back. They said it was two days late,″ he said.

Amish men in straw hats, bib overalls and beards were already walking through Atlantic as early as Saturday, hammers and crowbars in hand, assessing the damage.

Yoder, a carpenter and mason, said full-scale efforts would probably begin as soon as the local Amish buried Andy G. Byler, 77, one of three lay preachers for his congregation. Byler, the only Amish man among five local fatalities, was whisked off his porch by the tornado. His body was found along a gully several hundred feet away but his family escaped serious injury, Yoder said.

Yoder, who wears a traditional unclipped beard but no mustache, said at least 10 Amish barns and homes were leveled, and one of the two Amish schools was damaged.

A total of about 80 buildings in Atlantic were flattened. Most of the secular homes were insured, officials said.

The home Yoder shares with his wife and one of his four children was not damaged.

″There’s going to be a lot of work,″ Yoder said.

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