One Family’s Road To Recovery

The Dozark's Decided To Rebuild Home After 2015 Tornado

What started as a normal day for the Dozark’s last May changed the next year.

An EF-2 tornado was coming their way.

Russ, a fireman, went to go help the town get squared away.

His wife, Barb, headed to the basement.

“I heard stuff hitting the house, not realizing the house was being torn apart,” said Barb.

When the storm passed, she didn’t have the means to get out.

“I just went back into the basement and hoped and prayed that my husband would come find me,” Bard said.

Russ soon returned to help out at home.

“Come up and did get my wife out of the basement and I said you ain’t going to like what you see,” said Russ.

The Dozark’s home was a total loss.

With everything seemingly collapsed around them, help swooped in from a friend.

Mayor Mae Gunnare.

“Barb called me that morning and said “Mae, the tornado hit our house” and I says are you okay? Are you okay?” said Mayor Gunnare.

Mayor Gunnare said she wanted to help give her longtime friends time to pick up the pieces.

“I said okay, you’re going to stay at my house and that’s the way it was for approximately six months,” explained. Gunnare.

For her, it was an easy choice.

“People need their friends, need their faith and their family and it all comes together,” said the Mayor.

The gesture hasn’t been lost on the Dozark’s.

“Just a very, very dear friend to allow us to do that and it’s just very humbling because you’re helpless,” said Bard.

Last year when KDLT spoke with Russ, he hoped for the future.

“This used to be my garage. Hopefully it will be again someday,” said Russ in 2015.

Today, their home and garage are back.

They felt rebuilding their home of over thirty years was what they had to do as Russ said they have “too many friends” in town.

“It’s home. This is where we established our home. We raised three kids here and we couldn’t visualize living anywhere else but here,” said Barb.

A peculiar decoration now sits in front of the Dozark’s home.

Something a relative noticed after the storm.

“He took a break and he looked up in the trees and he’s seen something yellow and he went over and saw that crowbar in a tree,” explained Russ.

A symbol of the strength of the storm also symbolizes the strength of the community.

“It’s in there strong and I guess that’s what we are as the town. It’s going to be strong,” said Bard.

Russ said the community’s hope is new homes will bring new businesses back to town.

He admitted despite the work that has gone in over the last year, there is still plenty to be done.

The Delmont community celebrated the one year anniversary at the Legion Hall on Tuesday.

People from all over joined residents for food and fun to commemorate the town’s resiliency following the tornado.

Mayor Gunnare wanted the celebration to serve as a thank you to everyone who helped them recover.