'That day changed our lives' Washington & East Peoria tornado survivors reflect a month later

By WEEK Reporter

December 17, 2013 Updated Dec 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Tuesday marks the one month mark after the EF-4 tornado hit Central Illinois. Many survivors including East Peoria resident, Wayne Smith, are just beginning the rebuilding process.

We talked to Smith in the days following the November tornadoes.

Smith was the man who found his fifth wheel travel trailer in his backyard on Stoneman Street.

On Tuesday, in the snow, that trailer was upright. That is one of many improvements Smith has made over the last month.

He is also busy getting a new roof and garage.

His home is in one of the hardest hit areas of East Peoria. The EF-4 tornado ripped right through his living room but even that has been tidied up.

"It's going to be a bit of a process,” Smith said. “We won't move in until a couple of months but at least we have a home to come back to."

Smith said the past month has been a preparation for rebuilding.

The construction on his home will continue through March. For now, he and his family are staying in temporary housing in Morton.

On Tuesday, we also reconnected with a family in Washington. Daniel and Nancy Topping moved back into their Washington home on Thanksgiving day.

They spent Thanksgiving cleaning up debris and boarding up windows. Tuesday, a month later, they have started rebuilding their roof.

The Topping's backyard was barren. Houses that surrounded their home are now gone, destroyed. Despite the noise of the construction and the boarded up windows, they were happy to be alive and be home.

"It's been nice getting back into your own home and just getting to relax and just read a book or fall asleep," said Nancy.

"There's just something about being in your own place," explained Daniel. "This home is something we've worked for throughout the years."