Special Report: Restoring hope in Washington

By WEEK Reporter

April 16, 2014 Updated Apr 16, 2014 at 10:53 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- It has been almost five months since an EF-4 tornado tore through central Illinois. Now it is Spring and one Washington family says it is time to bring their home to life.

Washington mother Katie Beasley is looking over at her home. In fall, it was crushed. The whole building was destroyed, leaving memories of her beloved home in dust and debris. This April, she is smiling as several men work to put up the first walls of her new home. It is all going up on the same plot of land.

"It just feels like hope... having everyone out here working," said Katie. "It just feels so good."

News 25 has kept up with the Beasleys since the beginning: the day they lost their home on November 17, the time Katie and her youngest daughter Rielle heard the first post-storm siren test, and then now on a sunny April day when their first walls came up.

"We've got windows on order; we're picking out shingles and that kind of stuff," said Ryan Beasley, Katie's husband.

It seems like deja vu. They first built their dream home this month four years ago.

"You move into a new house thinking ''Why didn't we do that differently' never thinking that you'd ever be able to do it again, ever," said Katie.

The big change, a slightly bigger window.

"We're making a couple tweaks but it's the same footprint," said Katie.

She showed News 25 the different rooms that for now, look like frames of rooms. Each one representing certain memories of the past. Ryan and Katie aim to build what they lost, while celebrating what is new.

However, the biggest change is the change of heart from victims to survivors. Her youngest Rielle, 4, is taking the lead.

"She tells the older ones it's fine. She's the most resilient. It's funny," said Katie.

Rielle models the resilience of this little town of Washington.

"It's not broken," said Katie. "Everything around here is broken and to see things being put together is just awesome."

It is the healing power of these sticks and stones.

"When we look back on this 10, 12 or 20 years from now, we'll probably see this as a special time in our lives that we were a part of something this big and special," said Ryan. "We're just honored to be a part of this community."