Community offers aid, support after disaster

Harrisburg’s Main Street was a vision of purple Saturday as community members lined the sidewalk.

Standing across the street from the First Baptist Church where Jaylynn Ferrell’s funeral was, the crowd came to support the families mourning the deaths of those who died in the EF4 tornado Wednesday.

Most wore purple, the high school’s color, and held up a purple banner as a human shield in case the Westboro Baptist Church showed up to protest the funerals.

Margaret Shimkus, left, Logan Hatton, center, and Vince Stevers, all of Harrisburg, gather belongings Sunday from Shimkus’ home on Water Street in Harrisburg. Shimkus’ home was damaged during the tornado that hit her neighborhood Feb. 29. “This whole thing is still unbelievable to me,” Shimkus said. Lynnette Oostmeyer | Daily Egyptian

Harrisburg resident Hallie Palmer, 13, was part of the shield.

“It’s the colors of our town,” she said. “It shows our support and pride.”

Ava Reeves, 15, said she came to Main Street around 8 a.m. and was one of the first there. She said she thought she had the wrong place.

“No one was there,” said her sister, 13-year-old Vivian Reeves. “Then all of a sudden, boom. Everyone was there.”

Harrisburg resident April Childers said the town is a family, and she came to show her support. Vivian Reeves said she agreed everyone is family, and even if people don’t know each other they still offer to help clean up.

“I don’t think people realize how little towns stick together,” she said. “We know everyone.”

Jaylynn Ferrell, 22; Randall Earl Rann, 64; Donna Mae Rann, 61; Mary Ruth Osman, 75; Gregory W. Swierk, 50; and Lynda Lou Hull, 74, died in the tornado.

Ferrell’s funeral service was at 1 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Harrisburg. Osman’s funeral was at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Reed Funeral Chapel in Harrisburg. Hull’s service was at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Sunset Garden Cemetery in Harrisburg. Swierk’s funeral was at 2 p.m. Sunday at J.M. Weirauch Funeral Home. Randall and Donna Rann’s funeral was at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Galatia.

Some who were injured by the storm are still hospitalized.

Ethan Manney, 11, of Harrisburg, was playing in the yard of what used to be his grandparents house Saturday. He said his grandparents are both still in the hospital, and in good health despite being bruised up.

He said they will be living with him until they rebuild their house, which is now on the other side of the road in pieces, where his family members were sorting through belongings.

In the days following the storm, Manney said he is still very scared of future storms and tries to block the first one out of his mind.

“I asked my mom ‘is this a dream?’ and she said ‘no’ and I said ‘I wish it was,’” he said.

His friend, Jake Montgumery Evans, 10, of Harrisburg, lives down the street.

He said his house doesn’t have much damage to it compared to others on the street.

“I am going to be the only one living on this street for awhile,” he said.

 

Sarah Schneider contributed to this report. 

 

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About Tara Kulash

You can reach Tara at tkulash@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext. 255.

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