A Community Survives: Delmont One Year Later


You won’t see what Lori Bueber lost in the May 2015 Delmont tornado, because what she lost is no longer here.

“I’ve never had wind come at me like that before, and it just, I looked up, and I thought, ‘Oh I don’t even have a house,'” Bueber said.

She didn’t know if she’d survive.

“I had to be dug out from under the stairs by a couple kids, and when I went outside and looked, I was just overwhelmed, ’cause there was nothing left,” Bueber said. “So, it was pretty tragic.”
Mike Williams remembers the noise.

“All at once I heard like two big explosions, and then like they said, you know, the locomotive, like jets flying over the top of you with sonic booms, and the next thing is, the house is shaking,” Williams said.

They, like their community, lost a lot in the tornado.

“My house, and most of my belongings, my van, and my pickup. I was able to save most of my clothes, but otherwise, most of it’s gone,” Bueber said.

Williams lost two houses, and much more.

“We lost a lot of clothes… I lost two vehicles, I lost a fishing boat, trailer and a motor, I lost two sheds, a garage, lawnmower, you know just your basic stuff that you have,” he said.

Mayor Mae Gunnare didn’t lose her house, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel a loss. She talked about who she misses the most.

“People,” she said. “We didn’t lose them directly, you know no fatalities, but I miss the neighbors.”

The mayor explains that before the tornado, Delmont had around 150 houses. There are now around 110. The population has dropped by about 70 people. Gunnare points out the path the tornado took- “four solid blocks.”

“It hit the baseball field, and it just came right up this street, and then it took this block, and three homes north of that yet, before it touched down,” Gunnare said.

Yet as much as the tornado destroyed, it couldn’t touch what’s most important in Delmont.

“When you look at the destruction, it’s just amazing that everybody lived,” Williams said.

Coming up on the one year anniversary of the tornado in Delmont, the town will have a celebration.

“Really [a] celebration… that we’re all here and blessed,” Gunnare said.

“The celebration that they have May 10th, I think it’s a celebration of joy and moving forward into the future,” Williams said.

Recovery is going slowly, the mayor admits. Yet she is quick to add that Delmont still has so much.

“New resilience, maybe that’s the word I want to say…we still have a community here, and that’s what’s important,” Gunnare said.

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