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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Neighbors gather to remember twister

BY STAN FINGER
The Wichita Eagle

They were neighbors once — 20 years ago on a stormy April night.

A large tornado decimated their 13 homes south of Kellogg near 143rd Street East. The same tornado killed four people in the housing development next door, including two young children and their baby sitter.

Ever since, residents of that shattered neighborhood have gathered for a meal on the evening of April 26. At 6:28 p.m. —the moment the F5 tornado struck — they hold a moment of remembrance for the 17 people killed in the Wichita metropolitan area.

Some have moved elsewhere in the years since the tornado, but they come back for the dinner. Others rebuilt their homes and stayed, and are now in the autumn of their lives.

"It's to celebrate friendship," said Janet Glasor, who hosted Tuesday's cookout.

A friend of hers went to look at what was left of the homes in the neighborhood after the tornado went through.

"All that was left was foundations," said Glasor, who pulled her 14-month-old twins from the rubble. Remarkably, they were unharmed.

Every home had a basement and residents had enough warning to use them. But that didn't stop debris from falling all around them.

"She asked them, 'Where were you?' " Glasor said. "Every one of them was in a different spot in their basements, but it was the only spot where they could have survived."

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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