‘One day at a time’: Survivors of 2003 tornado offer advice to recent victims

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s still a lot of cleanup to do after last week’s devastating tornado touched down. A couple who knows what’s ahead for families looking to rebuild offers a few pieces of advice.

“We walked out with just us a purse and a diaper bag,” Kathy Finazzo said, thinking back to 2003 after an EF-4 tornado tore she and her husband Michael’s home apart and turned their lives upside down.

“We went downstairs,” Kathy said, “and in 3-5 minutes you could just hear destruction upstairs.”

Kathy and Michael Finazzo

Rummaging through old photos of the devastation, Kathy remembers their cars destroyed, neighbors’ homes in pieces in the street.

“It was a boulder that went through the roof, through a closet, through his wall and it landed on my son’s bed,” Kathy said. “I mean there was just no fixing it.”

Michael remembers a heavy burden, asking himself, “What do I do? Where do I start? Where am I going to sleeps tonight?”

That’s why they want to offer advice to people hit by the latest storm.

“It’s terrible. My heart goes out to these people,” Kathy said.

She said it’s important to accept help.

Kathy and Michael Finazzo

“We had friends that just offered to loan us baby bags, and you know, here’s some clothes that I got at a garage sale,” Kathy said. “You really need to say, ‘Yes, I do, I really do need them right now because we don’t have anything.'”

Michael said be patient and know the feeling of loss doesn’t last forever.

“It’s a moment in time, and soon it will be just a memory,” he said.

It took them more than a year to get back on their property and under a new roof. So they can’t stress enough the importance of patience in the rebuilding process.

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