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Oak Grove community still recovering 3 years after EF3 tornado

Posted at 5:47 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 22:31:45-05

OAK GROVE, Mo.  — A few homeowners in Oak Grove are still in the process of rebuilding three years after a tornado ripped through the small town.

Residents described the EF3 tornado, which struck on March 6, 2017 and reached speeds of 154 mph, as a “war zone.”

"This rod was the one that came through the wall, and if she would have been laying there, she would of been gone," Doug Grote said.

That night was a close call for Grote's mother, Ruth, who lived right on the path of the tornado.

"That night it was pretty chaotic. There were people out everywhere, you know, just to see if everybody was okay," Grote said.

Residents were given a 20- to 30-minute warning before the tornado hit, which many credited with saving lives.

Looking at photos in the memory box his mother made, Grote told 41 Action News it was hard to believe nobody died.

"The tornado came through, and all these houses that were behind, just shoved everything you know, through the back door," Grote said. "I mean, there was debris stacked up."

It took more than a year for the duplexes Ruth lived in to be rebuilt.

Patty Asbury moved in just down the street from Ruth in 2018.

"Pretty heartbreaking to hear some of the stories, you know, they lost everything," Asbury said.

Hearing stories from her neighbors, Asbury says the disaster showed the resiliency of the Oak Grove community.

A majority of Oak Grove residents rebuilt their homes after the tornado, relying heavily on insurance. Many said they never considered leaving the small town, which has around 8,000 residents.

Residents also said the town came together after the storm to volunteer in the clean-up efforts.