Harrisburg residents move back into apartments after deadly tornado
HARRISBURG, Ill. — It's been a long five months for the residents of the Brady Street Apartments, the apartment complex heavily damaged in the Leap Day tornado in Harrisburg. But many residents are moving back in and they say they can't be happier.
"Get up there and drag it," said Danny Morse as he installed insulation. "I'll push."
He's grateful for second chances. He owns the 10-building apartment complex leveled back in February. Six of his tenants didn't get a second chance but he felt compelled to rebuild for those who did survive.
"Everybody in here kind of became family. So yeah, a lot of sleepless nights," he said.
The decision to move back in was easy for 91-year-old Thelma Wiley.
"There was nothing left of the homes," Wiley recalled.
She rode out the storm with her daughter in the bathtub.
"When we got up, we couldn't believe what we saw," she said.
Her neighbor, Donald Smith, didn't make it. She said she wanted to return for him.
"I think we share in our feelings for everyone that comes back and for the new ones, too, knowing that we had quite an adventure," Wiley said.
Single mother of two Patti Burklow moved back in two weeks ago.
"Just good to see some movement around the houses and everything's good," Burklow said.
We followed her back in March as she moved into a temporary home with the help of volunteers from Operation Blessing.
The cheers were a welcome sound considering the memories from a month before. Her apartment was destroyed as she climbed out of the debris the morning after.
"It was like being on a roller coaster and a freight train at the same time," Burklow recalled.
"You see a lot of this on TV and you can reflect to it to a certain extent but when you actually go through it, it's a total different world," Morse said.
Morse said there's still some work that needs to be done, including laying some final trimming, but he expects to have the complex complete and at full capacity by the end of August.