Monday marks a year since a half-mile wide tornado tore through the Champaign County town of Gifford. But a visit today to the community of 1,000 shows many signs of resilience. The 140 mile per hour winds on November 17, 2013, destroyed homes and businesses, snapped trees and power lines and shut down the water treatment plant. In the face of that destruction, residents say the community came together and largely rebuilt their town in the weeks and months that followed.
“I remember texting my brother (on the West Coast) saying what a gorgeous day it is, 70 degrees and sunny, it’s perfectly fine,” said Mike Swinney, who lives in rural Penfield, a couple miles outside of Gifford.