Nappanee remembered 2007 tornado with We all Survived event
Posted: 10/19/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Mark Shephard
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Cakes with “We All Survived” written on them were part of the celebration Thursday night, as survivors of the 2007 Nappanee tornado and members of the community came together in a tent on the grounds of New Beginnings Assembly of God, the site where the EF3 tornado entered Elkhart County from Kosciusko County on a northeast path five years ago at about 10:30 p.m. (Truth Photo By Mark Shephard)
Survivors of the 2007 Nappanee tornado and members of the community came together in a tent on the grounds of New Beginnings Assembly of God last night to hold a "We All Survived" celebration five years after an EF3 tornado entered Elkhart County at the site of the church from Kosciusko County on a northeasterly path at about 10:30 p.m.. (Truth Photo By Mark Shephard)
Crosses at New Beginnings Assembly of God in Nappanee— the site where the Nappanee EF3 tornado of 2007 entered Elkhart County from Kosciusko County on a northeast path — welcome survivors and members of the community to a We All Survived celebration held last night in a tent on the grounds of the church. (Truth Photo By Mark Shephard)
More than 200 community members and survivors braved cold winds to attend the celebration, which featured a video presentation, guest speakers, and cake decorated with the words “We All Survived.”
“We saw a great city come back to life,” said Mick Tomlinson, the senior pastor of New Beginnings, as he kicked off the celebration. Tomlinson said that the tornado had left the church $200,000 in debt, but that good people and hard work had fixed that problem.
“We saw God in our neighbors, and we saw God in our city’s leaders” said Terry Tyler, senior pastor at Grace Point, Nappanee. “Our whole perspective has changed.”
Linda Yoder, chairperson of the Northern Indiana Tornado Recovery Organization (NITRO), spoke about the organizations, donations and 14,712 volunteers involved in the recovery effort.
Mayor of Nappanee Larry Thompson got extremely fired up when he took the podium, and he brought a rousing dose of laughter as he began his speech. “Now listen, if we can get government out of the way, if we can downsize government, give it’s people their money back, say a prayer, let us go to work, we can achieve things in this country that no one else can do anywhere else. My name is Larry Thompson, and I am not running for president of the United States. Okay, I just had to do that.”
Thompson then settled into a more serious note and talked about the “eerie darkness and silence” that firefighters and rescue workers experienced as they went from home to home, wherein “the miracle was they didn’t find any injuries, and we didn’t have any deaths.”
Thompson thanked all the volunteers and the city employees. “The people of Nappanee will never know how hard you worked, the dedication that came through, the planning that was in place, but had never been tested, the willingness to cooperate, and sometimes when things didn’t go right to still keep a good attitude, and keep charging along.”
Thompson also thanked “our media” for the warnings and for the in-depth coverage that resulted in more and more people offering more and more help and money.
Mike Hoffman was the event speaker, and the WNDU meteorologist “said it is very humbling to have somebody come up and tell you, ‘you saved my life.’ Now I don’t know if that’s the case. We don’t know what would have happened if those of us on TV — at all the stations — wouldn’t have put out the warnings that night, and it would have been a total surprise. We don’t know. But to have people come up and tell me that, it still gives me goose bumps and brings tears to my eyes.”
Without federal help, city of Nappanee pulled together in recovery
Amish outlook:A better sense of community arose from destruction
Nappanee emergency workers, volunteers reflect on tornado
Nappanee tornado hit with unusual intensity, unexpected time of day
Nappanee families bounced back, but still feel effects of storm
Quick, “awe-inspiring volunteer response was instrumental to Nappanee’s recovery
Doppler Radar a key in tracking nighttime tornado
Find all these stories and more, including past coverage of the tornado, on our Nappanee Tornado: Five years later page.