"We are survivors" -- One year after the Merrill tornado
MERRILL (WAOW) -- It was a Sunday just like tonight when 15 tornadoes ripped through Wisconsin last April. Those twisters caused $11 million of damage in Merrill alone. Now we look back to that day and see how people are rebuilding one year later.
The scene was surreal. Within seconds, the life of each person in the community would be turned upside down.
"I didn't know what I was going to see," said Angel Sholund. Sholund's farmhouse was destroyed during that storm.
Winds swept through at speeds upwards of a hundred miles an hour. The Merrill tornado destroyed dozens of homes and businesses in its path.
"You just call out a name, 'Gina! Gina! Where are you?' And then all of the sudden there's that moment of hesitation where you don't hear anything and you're just petrified," said Sholund. "But then all of the sudden, you hear a, 'I'm here!'"
A year later, families are still putting their lives back together.
"It's finally starting to feel like home," said Sholund.
Sholund's new place has remnants of the old historic farmhouse, like the set of kitchen tables and chairs. But she said she still misses the home she had before.
"It was ancient," said Sholund. "It was over 100 years old. It was three stories. The history is lost in that and it's sad."
Through the past year, Sholund said she and her neighbors have pushed forward -- looking to the future instead of dwelling on the past.
"I believe that we are not victims of anything but we are survivors of everything," said Sholund. "Seven seconds kind of messed up two years of our lives but the reason that's okay is because if that would have happened in town, people would have lost their lives and Merrill could have been wiped off the map."
With the groundwork complete, Sholund's next goal is to add a little more green.
"I'm looking forward to a lawn," said Sholund. "I won't even care if it takes forever to cut grass."
And when she remembers that night, she looks for the silver lining hidden in the dark clouds.
"Most of us are just really grateful," said Sholund. "There's always good that can come out of bad. We just have to really search for it sometimes."
Sholund said the storms brought her and her neighbors closer together -- and not only because it ripped out many of the trees separating their properties.
You'll hear more stories from these tornado survivors on Monday night on Newsline 9.