Volunteers clean debris following Harveyville tornado
HARVEYVILLE, Kan. (WIBW) - Thursday was the first day volunteers were allowed into Harveyville to help with the clean-up process after Tuesday's EF-2 tornado. As over a dozen people worked on Debbie Roberts' destroyed home, helping the retired geology teacher salvage her precious stone collection from the debris, they got a taste of the amazing experiences this town's residents have gone through.
"My grandson, he's eight years old. He was walking up the stairs...When he got to the living room, he went airborne." Roberts recounted, looking over her ransacked living room. "Mike hit the coffee table and screamed," waking up Robert's husband Rich Roberts. The grandfather woke from his nap, instinctively reacted and caught him in his arms.
Debbie Roberts says her grandson Mike came within inches of being sucked out of the window.
"So when you say 'we are sorry', yes, but we have a grandson and we came close to loosing him." she told 13 News crews. "None of this matters." she said about the damaged home she and her husband built 45 years ago, board by board.
This Thursday morning, pieces of it were being picked up piece by piece.
Along with three generations of relatives, who also suffered damages, Roberts had help from a host of friends, old and new.
After the tornado, a storm of volunteers, almost 400 of them has descended on the town.
One volunteer said she knows exactly what people here are going through.
"I'm from Reading. We had a tornado last year," Jennifer Young said. " If we didn't get all the volunteers that came out and helped, which was a very emotional thing, we would've never gotten as far as we did."
Young said she came to Harveyville to pay it forward.
Another man, currently unemployed, said he came to give his friends his time.
"I have a lot of friends here," John Bush, who came from Eskridge, said. "I knew they needed some help. They'd come and help me if I needed it."
"I got time...It's just a good cause. And until I got full time work, I'll probably stick round," he said.
Debbie Roberts says she's grateful for all the volunteers.
"People from Harveyville went down and helped in the Reading tornado and now there are Reading people back out here helping us."
Harveyville is rebuilding, beginning with the seeds it sowed.