Brookport Celebrates Tornado Recovery

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Randy Livingston

MASSAC COUNTY -- The past year has been rough for the small community of Brookport. The city took a direct hit from an EF-3 tornado in November. On Friday, the residents not only celebrated the Fourth of July, but also how far they've come in their recovery.

Independence Day in Brookport isn't usually so big.
 
"Just a small parade," said City Council Member Kathy Walker. "Then we come down to the park have hot dogs and go home."
 
Walker and other volunteers wanted something more for this year. They planned an all-day festival with food, fireworks, and fun. The goal was to cheer on a community that's faced tragedy and worked side by side to clear out the damage.
 
"Show everybody that we're coming back you know and stronger than before," said Walker.
 
More than seven months after the tornado, sections of Brookport still have a long way to go. However, recovery is a slow process. About a half dozen homes are currently under construction or almost complete.
 
"You know I feel God spared all of us right there," said Massac County homeowner Jackie Klaffer. "He was good to us."
 
On November 17th, Klaffer took shelter with his family in a small closet. They made it inside just before the 145 mile per hour winds destroyed the neighborhood and his house.
 
"It lifted it, it twisted on about a 20 degree, moved it back 22 foot, and dropped it," said Klaffer. 
 
Klaffer talked to his insurance company and FEMA. His new home should be ready to move in within a couple months.
 
"Everything's went great," said Klaffer. 
     
He's still surprised at the number of groups that rushed in to lend a hand with cleanup.
 
"There's been people from Alabama, South Carolina, rebuilding people's homes you know at no cost," said Klaffer. 
 
However, Klaffer's not shocked to see his hometown bouncing back or hundreds of residents spending their holiday celebrating together.
     
"That's part of Brookport," said Klaffer. "People helping each other out."
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