ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) – The clean-up in Andover continues. One woman who lost her home spent Monday rummaging through what was left and hung up her tree decorating it with debris left by Friday’s EF-3 tornado.
She told KSN that putting this tree together was a ray of light in an otherwise dark few days.
“I could see the tornado coming towards us, and so I got the kids, and we immediately went downstairs. We have a closet under the stairs in the basement, and that’s where we went and shut the door,” said Loree Derose.
Less than two minutes later, the tornado was over Derose’s home.
“We came in here. We hid here, under the stairs,” said Derose showing her basement. “You can see, I mean, there’s not even a crack in the wall.”
Friday was the day before one of her kid’s birthdays.
“I needed to be calm for them, you know, tell them it was going to be okay,” said Derose.
The next day for two hours, she gathered family, invited some friends and had a birthday celebration for her son.
“He said it was the best birthday. He had the best birthday,” said Derose.
Derose was able to find her parent’s ashes, and she is grateful her kids are unharmed and still here.
“I’m so thankful that we’re alive … to have a birthday,” said Derose.
On Monday, she decorated a Christmas tree. A make-shift symbol of what this family of four has been through.
“We tried to pick books that were very fitting: ‘Bad Things Happen,’ and ‘The Storm Chasers,’ and ‘Catching Fire,’ ‘Beautiful and Dammed,” said Derose, explaining the books around her tree.
“I know it is silly, but it’s the most fun I’ve had in days,” said Derose.
Derose shared that the help from everyone in the community and volunteers have meant everything to her. She says recovery will be a marathon and not a sprint.