Perryville, MO residents move back in to neighborhood where EF4 tornado struck

PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - It looks like a brand new subdivision, some homes are complete while others are in the beginning phases of construction.

Moore Street looks very different than it did in late February 2017 when an EF4 tornado ripped through the area.

"The wind, the noises, the smell," Kelsey Meyer said. "The screams. I just don't think that will ever go away,"

Meyer and her family were sitting down to eat dinner just before the storm hit.

"The night of the tornado we had grilled French fries and cheeseburgers and our kids won't even eat that for supper now because it reminds them of the tornado," Meyers added.

The family was taking cover in the basement when they heard the massive twister was heading their direction. The tornado touched down on Moore Street and leveled most of the homes in the area.

"The shock that they went through," Perry County EMA Director Hank Voelker said. "The concussion of a tornado going over the top of you. Just the sound of that will probably linger for these young folks probably for the rest of their lives."

The EF4 tornado destroyed or damaged many homes in Perry County and made its way into southern Illinois where more homes were destroyed.

One person died as a result of the tornado and a number of people were hurt.

"This was not just some little storm rolling through," Voelker said. "This was a category four storm and a young man did lose his life over it."

Residents of Perryville and Perry County were scared and in shock that night. Homeless and saddened, they were forced to pick up the broken pieces of their homes all while undergoing an immediate search of where to live.

Perryville Mayor Ken Baer said if it wasn't for the quick response from so many that night, they wouldn't be where they are today.

"The initial team effort was phenomenal," Baer said. "The community came together. Every backhoe in town was brought out here. Every dump truck was brought out here all by volunteers and we cleaned it up in record time."

"The community was amazing," Meyer said. "They were coming around with food, water, totes. Stuff you wouldn't think about needing after a storm."

For Perry County, Voelker said most people have rebuilt back where they were. For Perryville, around the Moore Street area, most have moved back as well.

"At this point eight months later, 20 percent have decided not to come back," Baer said. "The other 80 percent, you can see some of them are moved in."

Voelker said every house that was rebuilt in the Moore Street area has included a storm shelter.

"We did put in a storm shelter ourselves," Meyer said. "I think everyone on Moore Drive did put in a storm shelter."

For Meyer, she lost her daycare that was attached to her house in the storm. She did relocate it, but did not bring it back to her home this time.

"It has its pros and cons," Meyer said. "For nine years I ran the preschool. It was attached to my house. As far as not having the preschool attached to my house this time, I think that will be a positive outcome from this."

Overall, Meyer along with her neighbors, as well as, other county residents won't let even an EF4 tornado get them down. They want to stay and that is what they are doing.

"This was what we called home," Meyer said. "We never intended on building or moving out of this location here. And to be back is just wonderful."

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