ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) – April 29, 2022. It was a day branded in Gary Dickerson’s mind.
“I was at work, came home, stopped at Abuelos, and picked up some food,” said Dickerson.
Events he has cataloged by memory and video.
“I watched the storm start coming, and I stayed upstairs to record it hoping it would diminish and go away. It didn’t. It got worse,” said Dickerson.
The National Weather Service says for 21 minutes, an EF-3 tornado stayed on the ground, destroying homes, damaging an elementary school, and ripping apart the YMCA.
“So I ran downstairs. I held the door for about 30-40 seconds, heard a couple windows break, and thought no big deal. I’ll replace a couple of windows, and I opened the door after it calmed down in less than a minute, and I said, ‘Where’s the house?,'” said Dickerson.
His confusion met with grief.
“I just held my head and almost cried because I had no idea where to start or what to do,” said Dickerson.
Dickerson says he is reminded about the tornado’s power each time he walks out on his back porch. Trees that once created a barrier around his home were wiped away.
However, the storm bonded neighbors and turned strangers into friends.
“‘We’re from Epic Church, and we are going to have three trailers here and 12 men in 10 minutes, and we are going to put all your stuff in storage for as long as you need for free,'” he quoted some volunteers.
Good Samaritan gestures still frame his faith.
“Everything was gone. We had an 8×10 sketch of Jesus Christ above our front door on a thumb tack, and the roof was gone, and Jesus was still there, and my wife said, ‘That’s a sign. We’re going to be OK,'” said Dickerson.
A lot of Dickerson’s neighbors are still rebuilding. He notes that people should record everything for insurance purposes. He also says next time, he won’t wait to take cover.