ORRICK, Mo.—One year ago on Sunday, a tornado left the town of Orrick, Missouri, a shattered mess of damaged homes and buildings. Today, the city held a cleanup effort to mark the anniversary of the storm that changed the lives of so many in the community just east of the Kansas City metro.
Orrick resident Lana Ryan remembered the storm that nearly destroyed her home.
“I was fixing dinner and I turned the TV on and they said something about a severe thunderstorm warning," said Ryan. "I thought it just looked funny. It felt funny, you know. I kind of looked out and saw this big cloud and I could kind of hear it and feel the pressure and about that time he hit the door he said, ‘Get to the basement.’ And it hit. Just boom you know. And it was over. It didn’t take long”
Ryan says that the cleanup effort still continues a year later.
“Tomorrow will be a year and we’re still slowly cleaning up," said Ryan, who with her husband have put a new roof and siding on their home, as well as a new kitchen to replace the one destroyed in the storm. "It just takes time to get everything back like you had it.”
Ryan says that just 30 minutes after the storm, which wrecked many homes and buildings but fortunately didn't cause any deaths or injuries, you could hear chainsaws and see folks rolling up their sleeves.
“We came out the door and of course everybody else was coming out, are you alright? The town came together and everybody was helping each other," said Ryan.
On Saturday, the town hosted a citywide cleanup effort to mark the one-year anniversary of the storm. Volunteers from around the region, including over 60 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, gathered to paint buildings, plant flowers and pick up trash.
It was just for a few hours on Saturday, but scout leaders like Randy Florence say that he hopes it makes a lasting impression on the boys.
“I hope they look at this and say you know, I was part of something that was pretty special to a community," said Florence. "It means a lot. Boy Scouts, that’s what it’s about.”
Thirteen-year-old Boy Scout Michael Rhodes says that he was proud to spend his Saturday helping out.
“I think it feels good. Because it makes me feel proud of myself for helping to come out and support people and help them out," said Rhodes, who also appreciated the chance to make some new friends with the other scouts helping out. “Some of us are doing different things and some of us are with other people so it’s kind of good to meet other people and have new friends.”
That camaraderie is another theme that has brought healing to the town, says Pastor Art Endsley with the Orrick Christian Church, who flipped burgers and hot dogs for the volunteers who came out to help on Saturday.
Along with the scouts, the Disciples of Christ—some of its members from as far away as Bethany and St. Joseph—poured their time and efforts into Orrick.
“[We] wouldn’t have had any correspondence probably, I mean it’s awesome," said Endsley. "There are blessings in storms and we’ve been blessed by our community coming together, but today is different. Most of these people don’t live in Orrick. Today is different. These folks live a long way from here. We have some folks from all the way up in north Missouri that have come in and are donating their time.”