Weather Forecast


Top 10, No. 6: Rebuilding in wake of tornado

Derrick Budd dodges fallen treetops along 650th Street in the town of Martell after a tornado struck the area. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
In the backyard of the Vanasse home, the only entrance that was still usable was through the back door with a pile of cinderblocks leading them into the slanted home. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The afternoon of June 28, 2017, will be remembered by many in Pierce County for the devastation left from an afternoon tornado that left a path of destruction through Martell, Beldenville and Spring Valley.

Gary Brown, Pierce County Emergency Management director, said total damage in Pierce County from the tornado was estimated at $2,152,000.

"The majority of the damages were to private residences and some businesses," Brown said. "Since the majority of the damages were private in nature insurance covered most of these costs."

Brown said the county has a minimum amount of uninsured damage value that must be exceeded to receive assistance and the Martell tornado did not exceed this threshold due to most of the damage being covered by insurance. Also, the area did not receive a federal disaster declaration because uninsured damages did not exceed the state threshold of damages.

The National Weather Service classified the tornado as an EF-1 tornado which means it had winds between 86-110 mph. They reported that the tornado peaked at 105 mph and left a path of destruction 11.7 miles long.

After the storm, friends, family and insurance people were nearby to help with the cleanup process.

"Insurance personnel were also on site to several locations quickly to aid the homeowners in their recovery," Brown said.

Irvin and Evelyn Vanesse of Spring Valley relied on their son to help repair their Spring Valley mobile home that was damaged in the storm. Originally the couple thought their mobile home may have been totaled during the tornado, but Evelyn said thankfully that was not the case.

"We got it all put back together again," Evelyn said.

Evelyn said it took about 4-5 weeks for them to get their home back together and their son who lives nearby was able to help with restoring their home. During this time she said they stayed in the garage all day and slept at a motel at night.

This was not the first time the Vanasses have been through a tornado. Evelyn said they had been through a tornado when they lived in Minnesota and it was not an experience she thought she would have to relive.

"Not everyone goes through a tornado," Evelyn said. "When you go through it once you don't want to go through it a second time."

The tornado left one person injured — Zach Knutson who was treated for concussion symptoms — but no deaths.