Levi Harmon and fiancé Kate Fielden's wedding bands are in a case at his parents' house in Oak Grove, buried under the rubble.
They think it might be possible to find the case when more remnants of what had been Mike and Mary Harmon's house on Mitchell Street get cleared out.
Most important, though, is that the four of them emerged from the rubble after a tornado tore through the neighborhood Monday evening. They and many other survivors, aided by an army of volunteers offering elbow grease but also food and water, spent Wednesday continuing to sift through the residential wreckage.
The National Weather Service classified the tornado as an EF-3, with winds of about 150 mph. It was about 400 feet wide at its maximum and stayed on the ground nearly 12 miles after touching down south of Grain Valley a few minutes after 8 p.m. The twister damaged or destroyed more than 130 homes, but remarkably emergency officials reported just 13 injuries – none serious – and no deaths.
Levi said his parents both had to get stitched up a bit, and Kate suffered a concussion, but they consider themselves lucky – consider the whole town lucky, in fact, since nobody was killed or even seriously hurt.
“It's just crazy,” he said.
Levi has his own house elsewhere in town, near his grandparents' place, and both were undamaged. He and Kate were visiting his parents Monday evening when the storm that spawned the tornado moved through Jackson County. They hurried into a storage room on the lower half of the Harmons' split-level house.
“We knew there was one coming,” Levi said. “We were watching the news, then (heard) the sirens. We went downstairs and were still watching. We didn't know where it was.”
Tornadoes have come near Oak Grove before, he said, but never actually hit the town. The fact it was already dark made it even scarier once the power went out.
“As soon as Mike shut the door, the house blew up,” Kate said.
Added Levi, “It sounded like a bomb going off.”
Pointing to a refrigerator lying on the pavement of what had been the garage, Levi said that shielded them from having more debris pile on top of them.
“I pulled my fiancé and my mom out and went back and pulled my dad out,” Levi said. “He was trapped under some sheet rock and parts of the house.”
After searching through remnants, they salvaged a decent amount.
“We got a good amount of clothes, and some pictures with some water damage,” Levi said. “I was surprised how much we could get out. We found her keys.”
And Kate's car is apparently still drivable.
A couple short blocks from the Harmons, Roger Hipsher also felt the tornado go past his duplex after hunkering in a secure room next to the garage. His kitchen walls are gone, exposing cabinets and appliances that appear undisturbed. His sons, who weren't home at the time, said plenty of possessions were salvageable considering the damage, but Hipsher said his landlord will likely tear the place down to the base.
After hearing there was a tornado in Grain Valley, Hipsher recalled, he got his shoes on and was going to step outside his garage to take a look, but then heard debris flying around outside and thought better.
Going through an experience like Monday certainly gives a new perspective, he said.
“It definitely changes how you watch the news when you see something like this,” he said.