Tornado destroys family's homes but not their spirit

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The storms that swept through northeast Kansas Thursday are the latest in four straight days of severe weather.

On Wednesday, a large, half-mile wide tornado tore through Dickinson Co. The National Weather Service rated it as an EF-4 with 140 mile and hour winds. The agency said the twister was on the ground for 90 minutes and traveled 26 miles from Soloman to just south of Chapman.

Emergency officials said it destroyed eight homes and damaged about twenty in all. Five people suffered minor injuries.

While the tornado may have destroyed the Zook family's homes when it passed through Abilene, it couldn't touch their positive attitude.

"It's what I was blessed with," Sam Zook said.

He and Denise Zook built a house and machine shed on their property outside of Abilene. Their son and daughter, Nathan and Kari Zook, then moved in right next door.

Nathan built their home from the ground up two years ago, but never thought he would see the bare bones again.

"It's kind of devastating but it's just a house," Kari Zook said, "So, we weren't here, we're not hurt. We'll replace it, we'll fix it, we'll do whatever we've got to do."

Kari says her family of four lived here only eight months before her husband's work was ripped away in a split second.

"It's not fun but it's replaceable so I really... we're still alive," Kari said, "My kids are here, we're fine so that's all that matters."

The machinery shed landed about a quarter mile from where it stood. Although finding and picking up these pieces they once knew as home may take some time, the Zooks know they don't have to do it alone.

"You don't realize until disaster hits how many people are there for you. It's insane how many people are here," Kari said.

The Zook's insurance agents have been working, too - getting them a check to get started by the end of the day.

"This is what life is friends; everybody comes and helps out you know, and it's really a good community to be from," Duane Zook said.

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