Week after tornado, Kokomo families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KOKOMO, Ind. (November 28, 2013) — They’ve survived the worst flood on record and an EF-2 tornado all in one year — but the city of Kokomo is still saying thanks this holiday.

It’s been nearly two weeks since the severe storm hit the town. 39 homes have been condemned. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

Volunteers at the Grace United Methodist Church spent the afternoon serving meals to the homeless. The Kokomo Rescue Mission and Red Cross have even doubled their food deliveries to displaced families on Thanksgiving day.

“We have the warmth here. We have the fellowship here. We have the food here. We have the people here today,” said Van Taylor, Kokomo Rescue Mission Executive Director. “We’re just feeling blessed.”

The football game is on, the food is ready to serve on the table at Mike Gibbs’ home. Nearly two weeks ago, he and wife, Charity, were just 1000 feet from the tornado in their car.

“Everybody’s very happy to be together,” said Gibbs. “Never in your life would you think you’d be that close to something that devastating.”

The couple was heading home from Markland Mall when the storm hit November 17. Face-to-face with its fury, and debris flying around them, they immediately turned the car around.

“I couldn’t see anything. Cars started disappearing in the distance. Everything was just whited-out,” said Gibbs. “I was doing about 105 m.p.h and it was still catching up.”

They made it back to the Best Buy store to take cover. 15 minutes later, the Gibbs returned home to find their home barely untouched except for the one piece of siding that blew off.

As as they welcome family this holiday, saying thanks has much more meaning.

“If you’re going to look at the bright side, it’s just a bunch of stuff,” said Charity. “Just a bunch of buildings and stuff that doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.”