The city of Nappanee continues to heal after a tornado ravaged the small town late Thursday night.
Not quite three days after the storm, the city is still under a state of emergency and will remain so until Monday to protect businesses that were damaged.
All Wa-Nee schools will be open on Monday, but the Head Start programs will not resume until Tuesday.
Most homes have had their power restored, but a few hundred are still left without.
Nappanee’s mayor says they will receive state help and they are asking for federal help.
And thanks to thousands of volunteers a lot of progress was made in the clean-up. People came out to help in droves, even with no connection to the city.
Usually when traffic is backed up in Nappanee, it is because vehicles are lined up behind a buggy, but Sunday’s hold up was from people lining up to help their neighbors in need.
“We waited for almost an hour in traffic just to reach Northwood High School, which normally takes us fifteen minutes,” explained Crystal Lam. “It almost brings me to tears to see everybody show up today.”
Nearly three thousand volunteers gathered at Northwood High School and every single person was ready to get their hands dirty.
“[We’ll be] fixing stuff, picking up stuff, cleaning up around areas,” said Kyle Clevenger, who was volunteering with the clean-up. “We are here to help. Any place they send us, we will be there.”
Jaime Priego said, “From the high school, they were bused out to properties around the area, like a farm that was devastated in Thursday night’s tornado. And while they work to salvage anything they can, they don’t even k now who the property owner is and they say it doesn’t matter.”
The volunteers all said that it does not matter who they are helping, all that matters is what happened and the terrible mess that it left behind.
“Other than movies, I haven’t seen anything like this before,” explained Tregg Fisher. “I just couldn’t believe that something can make this kind of destruction.”
But from the destruction has come hard work, as thousands of hands racked, picked and piled and thousand of hearts reached out to their neighbors.
“It’s not only a testament to faith, but our need to help each other and to the American spirit,” said Gladys Deloe. “In struggles is where people really recognize each other, and this is something where being together makes us one human nation.”