Oklahoma tornado reminds Nappanee tornado victims of tragedy - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Oklahoma tornado reminds Nappanee tornado victims of tragedy

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It'll be six years ago in October that people in Nappanee found themselves in the middle of disaster.

Luckily, no one was killed when the tornado ripped through town, but the effects, still dire.

Victims are reminded of their own tragedy as they see the images from Oklahoma.

"I have goosebumps. Just when you mention it. It's really hard," says Jenni Heeter, who survived the Nappanee tornado.

The Heeter family's home torn apart by Mother Nature. The roof ripped off, windows and debris strewn all around, and vehicles destroyed.

everything was just a mess and I looked up at the stairs and there was nothing up above," says Jenni.

The Heeter's had to rebuild their home from the studs up.

They lived in an un-insulated trailer on their property for six months.

Nearly six years later, remnants of the tornado still linger.

"In fact, our younger daughter just found three or four pieces of glass in the walkway. They pop up every now and then. Shingles in the pond, six years later," says Jenni's husband, Mark Heeter.

The Heeters say they're lucky no one was killed, as they remember how Nappanee looked much like a warzone.

Their heart goes out to those in Oklahoma, but they know, they too, will rebuild.

"Tragedy seems to bring out the best in people. It certainly did for us around here. And I have no doubt Oklahoma will be the same way," says Mark.

Jenni and Mark say since the tornado, they pay closer attention to the weather, and are always prepared.

The same is true for the city of Nappanee as a whole.

Mayor Larry Thompson says the city has six shelters, and added two more sirens since the tragedy.

"We've tried to make things better, safer. And I think we've done that. We just don't want to ever have to find out again," says Thompson.

As the Heeters look back through painful memories, they're all reminded of just how lucky they are.

"We're not comparing this tornado to what Oklahoma has had and even southern Indiana more recently. We thought it was pretty bad then but we've been reminded a number of times that we were the fortunate ones here," says Thompson.

 

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