Families in some of the hardest hit areas in Washington, Illinois were allowed back to their homes for the first time Tuesday.
A town that was blocked off by police Monday, was full of home owners rebuilding and recuperating on Tuesday.
Dolores Steffen and her son had not been back to what remains of their home since Sunday. Police blocked off her neighborhood because it was deemed as unsafe.
“They wouldn’t let us back in there. We tried and tried and other people did too,” she continued, “We had to get in there because we had valuables like everybody else,” said Steffen.
When Steffen first saw what remained of her house, she credited her basement to saving her and her son’s life.
“This is proof basements save people’s lives,” Steffen said.
And that statement proved true just a few houses down from Steffen at the Adkins residence.
The Adkins family saw the tornado coming straight toward their neighborhood when they ran to their basement.
Tim Adkins recalled the moments before the storm.
“As soon as I hit the bottom of the stairs I could hear stuff hitting the house,” Adkins said.
Tim’s wife Tyra recalled her initial reaction after the storm.
“The first thing we did was we looked out this way and we could see our neighbors so we knew something was wrong,” said Adkins.
And something was wrong. A once lively neighborhood was in ruins.
Steffen and the Adkins family both are ok. And now, both families will grieve and rebuild.
But both say they are thankful their families did not face serious injuries.
“We got each other, we’re all in one piece,” said Steffen.