Written and Media by Allyson Mitchell.
The night of Feb. 28, 2017 changed so much for the town of Perryville, MO. When a tornado touched down at 8 pm and damaged 13 miles of land, many homes were damaged. Tragically, a 24-year-old man’s life was lost, Travis M. Koenig. He was driving during the storm, ejected from his vehicle, and later found in a field.
The twister happened near I-55. People were screaming and cars were crashing. There was a salvage yard near the interstate where cars were being thrown onto the road, causing chaos. There were 10 people hurt from the tornado, but no one else died. A meteorologist, Chris Higgins, said, “Around 50 percent of winter tornadoes are category EF2 or stronger.” He believes this one falls into that category.
March 8, the Greenville women’s volleyball team partnered with Mosaic and traveled to Perryville, MO. to volunteer with clean-up assistance. Marissa Erwin, a GC volleyball alum, is from Perryville. She linked the 19 Greenville members to an organization where they would be the most effective.
300 acres of Brown-Larose farm was completely destroyed. John Larose, the son of the lady who owned the land, joined the group as they worked on the property. Different groups were assigned to different areas of the land. The tasks varied from picking up tiny shards of glass to moving huge metal pieces from a barn into massive piles. When the group arrived, there were many different piles of metal, wood, and miscellaneous items that were found scattered across the property.
Larose’s mother, the woman who lived in the house, was alone during the storm because the love of her life passed a few years prior. She was on the phone with her sisters around the time of the storm, warning her to take cover. During the storm, she ran from one side of the house to the other as her furniture chased her. The wind was so incredibly strong. She watched her house get torn apart. Larose commented on the disaster, “It was a miracle that she made it out alive.” His mother was in the hospital for three days. She is struggling to comprehend why this happened because she lost everything she had left of the people who have passed.
This experience was extremely eye opening to many of the students. Walking around the land and attempting to picture what was standing there a week ago was very difficult. Hearing the stories that Larose shared was heartbreaking. Larose mentioned that the farm had a barn that was large enough to fit six semis into, and there is absolutely nothing left of it. The tornado demolished everything the family owned.
The Larose family was extremely blessed by the work the Greenville College students and their willingness to take time out of their busy week to help clean up the aftermath of this disaster.