Rebuilding homes and lives after Merrill tornado - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Rebuilding homes and lives after Merrill tornado


MERRILL (WAOW) -- Four months ago, 14 tornados ripped through our state, causing millions of dollars in damage. People in Merrill continue to work on making their houses feel like home after the storm.

After a tornado knocked down trees across his neighborhood in April, James Lattoni felt like a stranger in his own home.

"When I first looked at after it happened, I wasn't going to stay here because it wasn't my place," said Lattoni. "Even now it seems like we moved to some place."

He's lived there for more than 30 years. With many of his beloved spruce and balsam trees gone, he wants to plant new ones. But even so, he said it won't be the same.

"They were pretty big trees now and I won't live to see them get big," said Lattoni. "I'm too old to watch them get big. They'll look nice but they won't be like they were."

On the other side of the neighborhood, contractors get to work on new construction.

"Starting from the footing, if the footing's are off, everything's off all the way up to the roof so everything's got to be perfect," said Premier owner Ed Livingston. "Measure twice and cut once."

Livingston said some homeowners were reluctant to demolish, but their attitudes have changed as they've seen the development over the past few weeks.

"There's a lot of sentimental value," said Livingston. "A lot of people didn't like to see their houses get torn down, which is understandable."

Across town, volunteers stitch together dozens of quilts. It's a time-intensive effort but they said it's the least they can do.

"We don't have funds to give anything else, but we do have the time and the talents to give someone comfort," said Merrill Area Community Enrichment director Jane Deau.

Deau said if anyone in the community has quilting supplies they'd like to donate, they can bring them to the Community Enrichment Center.

Homeowners said they've been knocked down before, but with help from the community, they're stronger now.

"We'll get through it and in time it'll feel like home again," said Lattoni.

Although much has already been done, there is a lot still to do. If you want to help, you can click on this link to find out what to do.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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