Burke business owner, mayor talk tornado recovery

Local News

A small KELOLAND town is still on the road to recovery about a month after a tornado and powerful winds hit.

The storm tore through Burke on the night of August 6, damaging school buildings, homes, businesses, and more.

Burke Building Center landed in its path.  

“Pretty incredible. All that go away in such a short time,” Burke Building Center Owner Vern Witt said.

Vern Witt took ownership of the place in 1994.

“I was pretty comfortable in that location,” Witt said.

Now, he’s getting settled into a new location.

The longtime business owner is working on reopening a physical location in a former implement dealer in town.  

In the meantime, he can still provide other services including taking orders and measurements.

Plus, the family business has a Gregory location.  

“People have been really good about going up there and getting what they need. It is an inconvenience, but everyone has an inconvenience right now,” Witt said.

City leaders are working on recovery, too.

Mayor Tom Glover says most of the cleanup is done, but there’s plenty of other work to do including rebuilding the Civic Center.

“Either back to the way it was or maybe even a little bigger or something; we haven’t decided that yet,” Mayor Tom Glover said.

But there’s one thing even a tornado couldn’t damage: the strength of the community.

“It just reaffirms why we work in these small towns,” Glover said.

“Family members and the community has really come together to clean up our town and get things back to some sort of normal situation. I’m proud to be from Burke,” Witt said.

Witt hopes to open the new location by the first of the year.

The storm also delayed the school year in Burke.

Students headed back to the classroom last week.

We’ll show you how the district is bouncing back in tonight’s Eye on KELOLAND.

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