Victims Pick Up the Mess, After Good Friday Tornado

Kevin Killeen
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Gary and Melissa Wilfong (left) survey damage in their yard

Gary and Melissa Wilfong (left) survey damage in their yard

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO –(KMOX)– Gary and Melissa Wilfong had expected a quiet Easter, with their six children all wearing the same color clothes to church — mint green.

Instead, the Good Friday tornado slammed their neighborhood, dropping three trees on their ranch house, just seconds after they grabbed the kids and dashed for the basement. 

“And if we wouldn’t have got the baby out of the bed before the tree came through, it was like 30 seconds, it would have killed the kids,” Melissa said. “I mean it was just instant.”

On Monday, another round of rain was falling,  tapping on the blue tarp protecting their ripped-up roof,  as Melissa and her husband raked up sticks from the yard and talked with contractors.   Like many, they were complaining they have not received the prompt service from their insurance company promised in the commercials. 

“Our agent wouldn’t even help us,” Melissa said, “We called him on Saturday night and he said, what do you want me to do Melissa?  Nothing’s open.  Get a hotel.”

Men who hadn’t shaved, women without makeup,  people without electricity or a coffee maker trudged around debris-strewn yards putting branches in piles by the curb for the trash men to pick up.  

Utility workers in bucket trucks re-strung fallen power lines on a block whining with chain saws and the put-put-put-put smell of generator exhaust.

img 14791 Victims Pick Up the Mess, After Good Friday Tornado

For some the tornado was just the latest punch from life.   Deborah and Matt Derelth had just driven home from a loved one’s funeral when the storm vented its wrath.

“Her Dad just died on Thursday,” Matt said, ” And we were coming on our way back from Leavenworth, Kansas when this whole thing blew up on us.   It’s been a tough week.”

Down the street, two grade school boys were dribbling a basketball on the sidewalk and laughing.  And a few blocks away homes had only minor damage.   And a few miles away it was only raining.   The roulette wheel of nature had landed on Maryland Heights. 

Copyright KMOX.

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