New Delmont Homes, Same Delmont Spirit
Community Continues To Recover One Year After Tornado
This time last year, the city of Delmont changed forever.
An EF-2 tornado ripped through the town, destroying homes and renowned buildings in its wake.
Today, recovery continues in Delmont.
Mayor Mae Gunnare said the new Fire Hall in town symbolizes the growth.
“They were just waiting for some equipment inside their community room in there to go on with the dedication. Then, the tornado came,” said Mayor Gunnare.
The tornado ruined the brand new building before it could even open.
Now, however, it’s up and running.
To Mayor Gunnare, the rebuilt fire hall is a testament to the services they provided last year.
“It just gives you the security again that these men and women are in our backdoors here again,” said Mayor Gunnare.
When she walks through town, she reflects on moments after the tornado.
“The biggest thing back a year ago was giving people, residents time to go through what possessions they did have,” Mayor Gunnare explained.
Around seventy residents in Delmont decided it was time to move on after losing their homes.
Mayor Gunnare said she knows that decision wasn’t necessarily by choice.
“A lot of them I’ve talked to recently and they said “If I had the funds, they were probably under insured, we’d have come back” or if there had been an apartment crash,” said the mayor.
For others, the choice was to rebuild what was lost.
“What I’m hearing now is “I have my own house now, our own home.” It’s just great that they did that,” said Gunnare.
One of the homes that were rebuilt was Gary and Jane Paul’s.
“We had decided that hey, we’re going to go on with it because we like the little town and we like the people here,” said Jane Paul.
They were in Wagner the morning of the tornado.
One phone call from their nephew and they rushed to Delmont.
“When we arrived, the three car garage was gone. The oak tree was lying on top of the porch here and most of the majority of the roof was removed,” said Gary Paul.
Gary said they were putting the finishing touches on their new home when the storm wrecked the majority of it.
“You look back at the pictures. You wonder why or how you decided to continue,” said Paul.
After nine months of time consuming work, Gary said they’re living comfortably.
“It’s something we wanted to put back the way it was,” said Gary.
Jane said it wasn’t an easy process.
“You really have to really think positive and have a lot of faith anymore nowadays when you walk into something like this,” said Jane.
At the one year mark, Mayor Gunnare said she hopes their community will be back to what it once was.
“Delmont will stay on the map and we’ll keep thriving with our resilience and people will come through town and you know, see new grass and maybe say hey that might maybe be a nice little town to have a house in,” said Mayor Gunnare.
The Delmont community is planning a celebration for the one year anniversary Tuesday at the Delmont Legion Hall.
Mayor Gunnare also explained that all the debts Delmont owed following the storm are paid off, thanks to an anonymous donation.
The iconic church in town is also set to be rebuilt. The project has been narrowed down to several bidders.