Tornado Disaster: Washington families try to salvage what`s left - FOX 32 News Chicago

Tornado Disaster: Washington families try to salvage what`s left

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Sunday's tornadoes killed 6 people -- the most people to die in tornadoes on a November day in our state's history. At least 13,000 homes and businesses are without power and Washington's mayor now estimates more than 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

On Tuesday, one Washington family went back to their house for the first time.

Greg Hill helped his sister-in-law cleanup after the tornado barreled over her home and tore off the roof.

"When you have something like this happen, you don't question, you just start doing and that's the attitude everybody's had and that's the attitude you have to have if you're going to get through this," Hill says.

And that's been the prevailing attitude in Washington since the tornado hit. Volunteers have offered help, with friends and neighbors pitching in, because when life gets this broken, it's impossible to piece things back together without a lot of help.

"We're just trying to help her get the valuable stuff out," says Marcia Horton, a helping friend. "The stuff that's not damaged trying to get to save some of it so when she can get back into a new home, she has something familiar, just trying to get it so she can get her life back."

"I'm very thankful to be here today," Beth Semlow tells FOX 32. "We are very lucky because it hit very fast, it was probably within 30 to 45 seconds by the time we got downstairs that was how fast it happened."

For the Semlow family, the alerts and the sirens gave them time to run down into their basement.

20-year-old Cody took us down there and showed us the room where they all hid, he said his aunt crawled under an air mattress to protect herself from falling debris.

"I'm just lucky enough our ceiling didn't collapse on us," Cody says. "Luckily."

Beth says when she looks around and sees the complete devastation that some of her neighbors have endured, she's just grateful that when she looks at her house she still has walls, standing.

"I just had a breakdown a little bit ago, I ran into a friend that's very dear to me and we had tears, we shared tears," she says when asked how she's doing.

As for Cody, what happened to his room and his home is hard to put into words.

"All I can do now is help my family and try to recover," he says. "I know were going to be able to be in this house again, but it won't be for at least a year."

And while for this family--and many others--the destruction has left them down, they are determined to rise above the ruin.

"We plan to rebuild because yeah we love Washington," Beth says.

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