Viola Continues the Tornado Cleanup

By: Jerimiah Junkers
By: Jerimiah Junkers

Stoughton wasn't the only community affected by Thursday's tornadoes. One of the first to be hit -- the small village of Viola in Richland County.

"The roof had been raised up and twisted, and it has pulled it away from the taping that made the connection in the sheet rock." Twisted tops and tumbled timber are what remains from a powerful storm that left Joe Potter with a mess.

"We come around the front of the house, and this is what we saw when we walked out here," says Potter.

"We came up from downstairs and we could feel a breeze, and the very top of the roof was completely gone," says Becky Hooker, a tornado victim.

"We have had nine homes that are listed as major possibility of being destroyed and three or four businesses," says Darin Gudgeon, from Richland County Emergency Management.

The aftermath was devastating, but the destruction was not directly from the winds. "My house was damaged, but it wouldn't have been damaged very much, but a garage hit it so it was extremely damaged," says Tim Farrell, a tornado victim. "It was amazing no one was hurt absolutely amazing."

Becky Hooker has a good edge on her clean up, knowing she was lucky with her neighbors garage roof just missing her home. One of many blessings. "Friday around 7 a.m., I was just out here and five dump trucks from different counties just pulled up the streets, and guys with chainsaws jumped out," she says.

"These people deserve a big pat on the back because they came together and got things done," says Gudgeon.

There is some concern as the focus goes from helping others to helping themselves. "Instead of focusing on getting their yard cleaned up and the trees out of the yard, now they are realizing now, 'Wow, I have damage to my house, and I have to deal with that," adds Gudgeon.

They will be coping with neighbors they're now even closer with.

Great stories are also coming out of an event like this. One man from 50-miles away trekked the woods and waded through a swamp when police wouldn't let him drive into Viola to help his friend cleanup after the storm.

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