After the storm: Rebuilding Vilonia

VILONIA, Ark. (KTHV) - The search and rescue is over, and today is all about surveying the damage so the rebuilding can start. Among the hundreds of volunteers are people working to provide the essentials.

The eerie silence that followed the tornado has been replaced of the roar of rebuilding heard and seen all along Main Street of Vilonia. Dozens of homes and businesses are gone.

The volunteers came as soon as the overnight curfew was lifted. An army of volunteers came alongside electrical workers and law enforcement. Among them is the unmistakable smell of thick cut bacon on a grill. Behind the grill is Redgie Jetton of Paragould. He drove two and a half hours to check on his son, and now his attention has shifted to feeding the volunteers.

"I'm going to throw some hotdogs on the grill, I think people might want some," said Jetton.

Unfortunately, the town of Vilonia has experience with coordinating an effort like Tuesday's. In 2011, a tornado killed four.

"You wish it wasn't you, but it's just one of those things, you can't do anything about it," said Jim King.

Back in 2011, the city of Vilonia started registering volunteers. It was a similar scene on Tuesday morning at the Baptist Church outside of town, with an effort to coordinate crews and hopefully, prevent looting.

"Just three years ago, we went through the same process, and it was very successfully done three years ago," said King.

This clean up shows no signs of slowing down. Those who have been through this before know it is a marathon not a sprint, and recovery will take years.

"I think that shows that the people are here to help each other. That's the American way to help each other," said Jetton.

After the tornado three years ago, the council created a disaster response task force. Through its efforts, they said shelters were in place in all schools in town, consequently saving many lives.


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