WASHINGTON, Ill. -- It's been six months since an EF-4 tornado ripped through more than a thousand homes. The tornadoes injured several people and caused fatalities in communities around the state. Now recovery is in full swing. Washington Mayor Gary Manier says it has been a long journey.
"When you look at it, sometimes it feels as if its been yesterday and then other times it seems like it's been years," said Mayor Manier. "Because of the harsh winter we had, which we had that 4 or 5 months where everything was just kind of dormant. With the progress we've made--we're talking about over 400 or 500 building permits--there's a lot of encouragement."
This milestone means a lot for Washington residents who have also come a long way.
Washington couple Nancy and Daniel Topping survived the storm. They live in a home located in the hardest hit area of Washington. News 25 met the couple on Thanksgiving. Nancy and Daniel were picking up debris and cleaning up the aftermath of the storm.
"That was a big change in life right there," reflects Daniel. "It put me to work."
"There was no grass. It was muddy. Trees were knocked over. Flowers were stomped," said Nancy.
Now, in May, the couple tells a different story.
"The flowers are coming back now, and the trees are starting to have some blossoms so it's nice to look at," said Nancy, smiling.
Life seems to be everywhere. A once lifeless yard is now a blossoming, green garden.
The couple says they are stronger than before, and Nancy and Daniel's home is too. They now have a new roof, chimney, stoop and windows. However some things never change.
"What she loves to do is have me make her a new flower garden," laughs Daniel.
"My husband says he doesn't want a new flower garden, but I'm sure he'll give in," laughs Nancy.
Sure enough, Daniel said, "Yes." At the end of the day, neither relent on what matters most.
"I want to finish and get our life back to normal," said Nancy.
"We'll still keep on going," said Daniel.