Community reflects as tornado anniversary approaches

News

One city in Central Illinois is preparing to look back at how far they have come in one year’s time. Last December, a historic EF-3 tornado hit Taylorville. Though it left homes and structures damaged, it could not break the spirit of the city.

Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp remembers the 2018 tornado like it was yesterday.

“Everybody really came together, worked hard. I even get emotional when I think about it, just because everybody put all they could into helping one another here in this community,” Kettelkamp said.

“I’ll never forget when it happened. The tornado was actually coming right towards our house so I was home with my wife and my son and we got down in the basement and as soon as it passed and I got dressed and headed into town, it was like a war zone. Just a complete disaster.”

Kettelkamp and Taylorville Mayor Bruce Barry admit the city is well on its way to recovery but they say things would not be this way the community’s resiliency.

“Just to see the athletic teams that came to the aid of people they didn’t even know. Neighbor upon neighbor helping neighbors, people coming from out of town meeting at our firehouse saying, ‘Hey what can I do?’ We’d send them into this area. People knew we were in need and people really stepped up. I just can’t thank them enough,” Barry said.

Despite all the food, labor and monetary donations given over the past year, Kettelkamp said there is still a lot of work to be done and people there can use your help.

“The community has a fundraiser coming up, we still need money and there are a lot of people out there that still need help. I know this community will come through because they’ve done it in the past.”

City leaders say more than 700 structures were damaged and 33 were destroyed in the tornado. Kettelkamp and Barry said Wednesday wind gusts over 50 miles an hour were a concern for residents but removing trees that could be dangerous to homes and buildings has been a priority in the area following the tornado.

The city is commemorating the anniversary of the tornado with an event at the VFW in Taylorville from 2 p.m. to 4p.m. on December 1st. The event is open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

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