One month after tornadoes Wyoming and Kentwood communities are still getting support

Posted at 9:59 PM, Aug 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-02 21:59:13-04

WYOMING, Mich.-  It’s been almost a month after a tornado rocked the community of Wyoming and Kentwood. While most of the immediate damage like fallen trees and downed electrical poles are fixed, lots of families are still fighting to rebuild. Today police and firefighters reminded them they aren’t forgotten. Even though rebuilding is a long road ahead, firefighters and police want them to know they don’t have to do it alone.

“It was bizarre to drive around after it happened, especially by the park where it used to be this gorgeous canopy. Then it was just really dark like a war zone. It was barren with fallen trees, and the sun was in places it shouldn’t be,” said Erik Newhouse a relief volunteer all the way from Colorado.

Road closure signs, piles of wood, and damaged houses and trees still line the streets of Kentwood and Wyoming.

“About a 6 by 8 gaping hole in my roof after the tornado came through,” said Mitchell Skinner, a victim of the tornado’s damage.

Skinner was hit hard by the tragedy, and even though the city itself is looking in better shape, he has much to do.

“It’s been a cleanup effort every weekend. I don’t have a lot of money. I didn’t have home insurance,” said Skinner.

Skinner has a roof to repair, a patio to fix, replace all his windows, and rebuild his garage according to city code.  Not to mention the traumatic memories he has to live with.

“I got pieces of glass that came through my living room, I get this feeling down my neck when I think about it,” he said.

Police and firefighters know that there’s still a lot to be done, and wanted to reassure the community they are not alone.

“It was basically we took the neighborhood out to dinner,” said Wyoming Police Chief James Carmody.

Wyoming Police chief says dinner won’t solve all their problems, but the gesture means much more than a free meal.

“I had one lady, which is really emotional for me, came up to me and there is a tree down in her house and she said ‘how are you doing?’ And I said ‘I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.’ The fact that she was more concerned with us after all she had to deal with really touched me,” he said.

Police Chief Carmody says the community has developed a long term relationship with the police department,  one that they take seriously.

And neighbors say today was a day to pause and think about how far they’ve come

“Today is a vast contrast to the week it first happened,” said Newhouse.

And those trees that once stood providing shade, let the sun shine right where it should today.

About 300 people attended the dinner tonight. The firefighters cooked the food, and police served it. All of it was donated by Walmart.