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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Tornado victim feels blessed, looks ahead

  • Nathan White of rural Metamora lost his family’s farmstead — and the 100-year-old home on the property — due to the Nov. 17 tornado. The home belonged to White’s grandparents.

    “My mom grew up there. They had 11 kids in that house, which to me, we’ve got three kids and that seems like a house full,” White said.
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  • Nathan White of rural Metamora lost his family’s farmstead — and the 100-year-old home on the property — due to the Nov. 17 tornado. The home belonged to White’s grandparents. “My mom grew up there. They had 11 kids in that house, which to me, we’ve got three kids and that seems like a house full,” White said. The one sentimental thing White said he will miss most about the home is what was in the attic. “Every time someone would go up into the attic to get Christmas decorations or to clean, or whatever it was, they would take some chalk up there and they would write their name and the date and whatever they went up there for or some little slogan. There was literally hundreds of names and dates up there,” White said. Unfortunately, there were no photos or videos taken of the names on the walls. “One of them, I think was dated in ’72 or ’73, my dad had proposed to my mom in a downstairs bedroom and one of ... my mom’s sisters ran upstairs and wrote it up in the attic,” White said. “There was dates and names that went all the way back to 1938.” The tornado did not knock the house down entirely, but White said it is unlivable. “It is a testament to the house. When we talked to the claims adjuster and the general contractor, everyone kind of agreed that if the house would have been built in the past 40 years, it wouldn’t have been standing,” he said. Nine years ago, White, who works at John Graham & Associates in East Peoria, and his wife, Nicole, bought the farm from his grandparents. “We were living in Peoria Heights in an 800-square-foot house at the time and we were just starting to have our family ... I knew I wanted to move back the country,” White said. Living in the country and raising his kids there, White said, was a blessing. After that blessing was wiped out by the tornado, White is now focusing on his dream — to build a log cabin home, which will be located in Metamora closer to his parents. “I always wanted to get back to the wooded area,” White said, adding that he and his wife were already planning the log cabin home prior to the tornado. About two-thirds of his log cabin dream home will be covered with the insurance money from their destroyed home. “They didn’t total the house out. It was pretty fair. You hear the horror stories where the insurance wasn’t fair, where insurance didn’t cover everything,” White said. “The structure of the house is still sound.” Several people approached White wanting to buy his home and land as is. He said he considers himself very fortunate. The Whites were also fortunately not at home when the tornado hit. Nathan was at the Washington Walmart getting the tires changed on his car and his wife was at church. “She was driving home and literally the tornado was in her rearview mirror a couple miles south of her,” White said. “Our 8-year-old was screaming from the backseat for her to go faster. He didn’t want the tornado to suck him up.” White was able to contact his wife and tell her not to go home. Through news reports, he knew the tornado was heading toward his home. “The last nine years that we’ve lived out there, we’ve had three near misses from tornadoes,” White said. “We had the tornado that took out Parsons. Parsons is like a mile as the crow flies from our house.” The Whites are currently living with their three children at his parent’s home in Metamora. Through all of this turmoil, White said he does not want to focus on his troubles. Instead, he is focusing on the amount of support he received. Immediately after the tornado, family members showed up at his home to help gather clothes, photos and other items. “We had so much support and we turned out fine after all the dust has settled,” White said. “It’s just been a big hiccup in the road.” White said so many family members wanted to help they decided to organize a clean up day. “It ended up we kept hearing from more and more people — friends, my wife’s church reached out to us. They wanted to bring some volunteers,” White said. White’s employer, Michael Graham, also called friends and clients to help. “I’d say a third of the people, we didn’t even know ... they just showed up with other friends,” White said. “It was humbling. Every once in a while, we just stopped and looked around. A tear came to your eye looking at how many people were helping us out,” he said.
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