HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - Monday marked the fourth anniversary of a series of devastating tornadoes that struck under the cover of night.
Before dawn on February 29, 2012, 13 tornadoes tore through the Heartland.
Harrisburg, Illinois was one of the one of the hardest hit areas.
This tornado was rated an EF4 with winds up to 180 miles per hour.
It traveled 26 miles, killing eight people and injuring 110.
Dale Fowler barely had time to rush his family down to the basement before the howling winds blew out windows on the first floor.
"You don't think it's going to happen to you. No one thinks they're going to have a tornado," he said.
Fowler's home was one of 200 severely damaged in the storm.
It was over in a matter of seconds for Dale.
"All of a sudden when the sun started coming up, it was just an unbelievable sight," he said.
Unbelievable for a tornado of this magnitude to strike in the dead of winter.
Still, the strength of the human spirit was bound to overcome this catastrophe.
"I look back and there's people with chainsaws just everywhere," he said. "It's like this happened instantly, and people I had never seen before in my life, you know, coming to help."
It was a long road to recovery for the Heartland.
Fowler watched new homes and businesses sprout from the rubble; and eventually he became mayor a couple of years later.
Since the beginning of this year, $25 million has been pumped into the local economy.
The lives lost will never be forgotten.
A ceremony will be held at noon on Monday at 719 Rollie Moore Drive in Harrisburg.