THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Tornado that Hit Galva

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This is a story from the WQAD News 8 archives from April 2008 with reporter Pam Cunningham.

It was April 18, 1996 when a powerful F-3 tornado hit Galva, Illinois in Henry County.  No one died from the storm, but three people had minor injuries.

But that storm left behind a city that promised to stay safe for future storms.

It also left behind an iconic image of one house, pushed off its foundation, teetering but in tact.

The house belonged to Terry and Angie Peterson.

"I was waiting for the wind to come and tumble us down hill or something," Angie Peterson told News 8 reporter Pam Cunningham when we revisited the city in 2008.

"We were lucky it wasn't so bad.  It wasn't so lucky for other people."

Angie Peterson had a house that was seen all over the country on the news and even in newspapers in Australia.

"I said it was the Wizard of Oz photo," said Angie.  "You know, the Wicked Witch is dead, because it just picked it up and dropped it there."

The Peterson's have rebuilt and now have a finished basement.  It's one place she likes to be with her family to feel safe.

"When the weather's bad I'll even sleep here."

Another thing that makes her feel safe is that the community is "Storm Ready".

"We have some spotters go out when the weather isn't quite right.  You know they are really on top of It.  They're always out so we're ready."

Bob Johnson runs Galva's Emergency Disaster Agency in the basement of City Hall.  He sees the pictures from the Parkersburg tornado and it reminds him of 1996.

"It's people standing out in the middle of the street crying cause everything they worked for all their life is in rubble, that gets to you, said Johnson."

He makes sure Galva is prepared and keeps a close watch.

"This year we've been lucky, I don't know why but it keeps going around us."

His advice to a tornado struck community?

"If anybody feels uneasy about it for very little money you can get someone that is retired setup to sit and watch a computer."

Peterson sais it's a lot of work to move on and feel safe.  But they'll never forget it.  Even 12 years later.

"'Cause we still think about it, isn't that crazy?," says Peterson.

"You still think about it."

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