Storming Back: Moline adjusting to a ‘new normal’ after 2010 tornadoWritten by Kathryn Milstein | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The only evidence of the havoc caused by the tornado that ripped through Moline is the two empty lots and the lone house still under construction.
“If you drive through and you look, you will notice there are a lot of big trees in Moline,” said Lake Township Chief of Police E. Mark Hummer. “And there’s an area kinda cutting right through the middle of it where there’s no big trees, but you’d have to be looking for it. I think they’re back to a new normal in Moline.”
Hummer, who flew over Moline in a helicopter the night of the tornado to survey the damage, said he was relieved no one died in Moline. While he found about 20 homes uninhabitable, he said most people rebuilt in time to be home for Thanksgiving.
“They did a great job,” he said. “They took care of each other.”
When Hummer drove through Moline after the tornado, he said his job was to help people get in touch with debris cleanup crews, the Red Cross and insurance adjusters.
The things that people were most concerned about were universal across the township, “was they weren’t so concerned about their big-screen TVs or even their jewelry or watches or electronics, they were worried about their pictures and mementos, things that truly cannot be replaced,” Hummer said.
Ben Sample said most of his belongings were scattered in the field near the remains of his mother’s house. The house, which has been rebuilt, only had a foundation and a toilet left after the tornado swept through.
“It wasn’t real,” Sample said. “It was like a nightmare. It looked like a battlefield.”
While he was not in town during the tornado, he drove back that evening.
“When I got here, everybody else was in the street, trying to have moral support,” he said. “Everybody came out and had support. Every day we came out here to clean up, there was a new person. It was amazing how the community responded to it.”
The community response gave homeowner John Pratt new faith in mankind. The roof and ceilings of Pratt’s home were damaged in the tornado, and every window in the back of the house was shattered.
A neighbor who had his house up for sale allowed Pratt and his family to live in the home while they rebuilt their house.
Pratt said he has wondered about the tornado’s timing.
“We were just talking about how lucky our neighborhood had been,” he said. “If it had been a weeknight, we might have all been sleeping.”
He said when the tornado hit, his thoughts were on saving his family, including their three dogs. When the roof lifted off his house, he made his way to the basement.
“By the time I actually closed my door,” he said, “it was over.”
Pratt said his family was one of the lucky ones. They didn’t lose many mementos, only a few pictures of his sons, Bryce and Austin. Two of the dogs, who rode out the storm in Pratt’s bedroom, had a few scratches but no serious injury.
“Everything I couldn’t replace in my house was just fine — and that was my family,” he said.
But for Moline resident Jill Becker, who cooks for nearby The Outpost Pizza & Carryout, life couldn’t have returned to normal faster.
“We slept through it,” she said. “We were watching movies and weren’t even paying any attention to the weather channel. We fell asleep on the couch. We’d have slept till morning if people hadn’t called.”
Becker said she woke up because a friend called her asking if she was OK. When she was told there had been a tornado, she had to see for herself.
“We went and looked out the window,” she said. “We could see all of our neighbors running to help other people.”
After she hung up on her friend, her family went outside and did what they could to help, including about eight hours of raking the yard. The tornado had missed her family by four houses.
But now, one would have to be looking to find any evidence of the terrible night in Moline.
Hummer said the events since the tornado and Moline’s return to normal give him faith.
“It was a positive experience coming out of a horrific night,” he said.