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Oak Grove residents clean up EF-3 tornado aftermath

Oak Grove residents clean up tornado aftermath
Posted at 4:36 PM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-08 08:51:49-05

Oak Grove residents are cleaning up the aftermath of the EF-3 tornado that stormed through many businesses and houses.

Governor Eric Greitens made a stop in Oak Grove on Tuesday and surveyed damage leftover by severe storms and tornadoes this week. He spoke with a number of neighbors, including Brenda Johnson, who lost her home and many items inside during a tornado on Monday night.

Madonna Forthofer, who’s lived in Oak Grove for 17 years, said the sound of the tornado is something she will never forget.

“I've never been in something like this,” Forthofer said. “It was as if it was a war zone and last night I went to bed, thinking I was nervous to wake up to see what kind of damage there was in the daylight.”

Forthofer’s daughter Kate Fielden and Fielden’s fiancé, Levi Harmon, were inside Harmon’s parents’ home when the tornado ripped through it.

“We had no time to think about what was going on whatsoever,” Fielden said. “It was crazy."

“That fridge was holding up that side of the house, and my dad was trapped in that hole with that deep freeze in the ground,” Harmon said. “If that fridge wasn't there, it would probably collapse. It probably would've hit us all, but thank goodness it didn't.”

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Right down the street, 89-year-old Virginia Robbins said it was the first time she’s ever witnessed something like this.  

“All the debris came over to our cul-de-sac, it's amazing,” Robbins said. “You hear the wind, you don't know where it's going, where it's going to hit, so we're fortunate.”

Joyce Hale, who lives in Oak Park, credits weather alerts and notifications for saving her life on Monday night. Hale lost her home during a tornado, but said she was able to take cover and stay safe as a result of staying up to date on the weather pattern.

As families pick up the pieces left behind, residents of the Oak Grove community say it’s a place that will always be home.

“When someone's hurting, we all hurt and we all pitch in,” Forthofer said.

“I mean I know that there's no house, but we live in such an amazing community that we really couldn't have done it with anyone else,” Fielden said.

“Life’s too valuable and thank God we have each other,” Forthofer said. “The valuables can be replaced and rebuilt, but at least we have eachother.”

Many residents who spoke with 41 Action News said while the tornado did damage a lot of the community, they do not plan on moving out of Oak Grove.

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Rae Daniel can be reached at Rae.Daniel@KSHB.com.

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