Reading, Kansas Rebuilding Despite No Help From FEMA

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Five weeks after a deadly tornado ripped through the Lyon County town of Reading, the community is slowly getting back on their feet.

An EF3 twister slammed into the town on May 21. Even though it has been a struggle, the town continues to work on rebuilding.

When Ed Brown heard the tornado sirens sound, he headed to the basement of his Reading home.

"It was shaking, and dirt was falling out of the floor boards on our heads. That's when I got worried," said Brown.

Brown was worried his home had been destroyed by a tornado that ripped through the town.

"It tore the hell out of it," said Brown. "About anything you could think of was inside there, gravel, insulation, it took it a while to clean up."

Brown was one of the lucky ones. He was left with repairing his roof and some windows.

"People found parts of their homes blocks away, or they've never been found," said Barbara Schlobohm, Reading public information officer.

Fifty-two of the 101 homes in Reading were damaged by the EF3 tornado.

Out of nearly a dozen businesses the only one left is the beauty shop located on main street.

Slowly, the remaining homes left standing are being repaired, no thanks to FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency isn't offering Reading financial support.

"We would have had to have had 100 homes destroyed, that's the threshold, I'm told. That would have left one home in Reading," said Schlobohm.

Comparatively, Reading suffered the same amount of damage as Joplin.

One person out of 250 was killed. The town saw damage estimates of more than $3 million.

"The people said, okay, if FEMA is not going to help us, we're going to get busy and start helping ourselves," said Schlobohm.

Rebuilding and helping themselves is exactly what you'll see driving through town today, and for years to come.

"We figure it will be probably be about 5 years before we have sidewalks and street signs and street lights, and yards with grass in them again, and not just dirt piles. We're looking forward to that moment when you can say, 'There was a tornado here? I don't remember that,' or, 'It doesn't look like there was a tornado here,'" said Schlobohm.

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