Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Recovering the Tornado

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Recovering the Tornado

Article excerpt

Every day when I leave my front porch, I see scars left by the May 3, 1999, tornado. While the debris and remnants of houses that were beyond repair have been removed, scars are harder to eradicate.

Overgrown weed patches now adorn our small neighborhood, covering vacant lots where homes once stood and families played. It's almost like it was back in early 1973 when I moved into the Moore neighborhood.

Ours was only the third house completed in the addition, but because of problems securing a mortgage, it was the sixth one occupied.

The rest of the long two-block stretch between Sunrise and Janeway, along NW 19th and 20th streets, was either empty or a beehive of activity as contractors worked to satisfy the insatiable demand of a housing boom.

Our family felt like pioneers.

Today, we feel like survivors.

There are three families still living in the neighborhood who were there on this day last year. Two of us had homes that were damaged, but repaired. The third had a house that was destroyed and built a new one to replace it.

Just driving in the neighborhood shows both sides of the survivor coin. The indomitable spirit can be seen with the 10 new houses that have been built, the 21 that have been rebuilt and repaired and the seven that are under construction. Eight of the completed homes are occupied.

Unfortunately, there are 41 vacant lots dotting the landscape, most of them holding "for sale" signs. Some of the new and rebuilt homes also are offered for sale.

Apparently, the former owners are not returning.

This same incongruity can be seen in the natural landscape, dominated by denuded trees, some that look as if they are dead and others with new growth. Tree stumps dot the landscape where owners have not yet decided what to do.

Each of the three pre-tornado neighbors has taken a different recovery route.

I chose a contractor to rebuild my house, while the neighbors across the street lost their house and had it replaced with a new one. …

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