Harveyville Recovering After Disaster Struck One Year Ago

HARVEYVILLE, Kan. (WIBW) -- A tornado took away the only things the people of Harveyville knew one year ago.

They faced a disaster no one can ever expect, but they have bounced back.

"They say you only want to go through one of these in a lifetime." The tornado that ripped through Lester Kimball's small town is still fresh in his mind.

"In my wildest guess, it was about six seconds and the house was totaled."

The storm spelled disaster for Lester's home, and those of many of his neighbors.

Earl Kopp and his wife experienced the same kind of loss. "We wound up losing our house and our garage," he said, "totaled our pick-up, our car, just about lost everything."

Harveyville is still rebuilding.

"We're doing okay," Earl said.

One year after the storm that took a neighbor's life, Rick Slade, the community is celebrating how far they've come. They used the one-year anniversary as a way to come together.

Dennis Irwin is one of the town's pastors. "The tornado reinforced that, that we do rely on each other," he said. "We learned how much we're part of a greater community."

But, it's something they won't forget.

Sonia Irwin, Dennis' wife, remembers the entire night. "We drove up the alley and couldn't get through the alley, but I looked up and said 'Dennis, the church is gone!'"

The time frozen on the church clock after it broke, 9:02 p.m., marks the jarring event.

But, the church is coming back. It should be rebuilt by the end of May.

The people of Harveyville believe they've looked tragedy in the face and overcome it together.

It's the only thing they can do is keep moving.

"You don't sit down and sob," Lester said, "too late."

Earl and his wife are keeping an optimistic attitude. "Still got some spots, but we'll make it," he laughed, "we'll make it."


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