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Nevada graduate loses home in Illinois tornado outbreak

The devastating tornadoes that went through parts of Illinois on Sunday destroyed the home of a Nevada High School graduate.

The family of Amy (Lekwa) Larsen, a 1999 graduate of Nevada High School, who lives in Washington, Ill., lost nearly everything when the violent storms hit.

Amy’s parents, Steve and Sue Lekwa of Nevada, say Amy and her family, which includes her husband Michael and their son Seth, were unharmed in the storm, but their home is pretty much destroyed. Steve said friends and family were at the area Monday helping them salvage many of their things. The work will continue throughout the week.

“We hope to be there by Wednesday,” said Steve, a longtime columnist for the area newspapers and former Story County Conservation director. His wife Sue teaches music/band in the Nevada School District.

Steve said his daughter, her husband and their son rode out the storm in their basement bathroom tub. “Amy estimates that it was less than 10 minutes from the time they went to the basement until it was all over,” Steve said.

Steve said one of the couple’s cars was totally wrecked. “What’s left of it is in the neighbor’s yard,” he said. Their garage, he added, was completely destroyed with their newer car sitting in it. “They were able to get (that car) out with the help of a passing backhoe. It’s pretty banged up, but may be drivable with some repairs.”

“We are so thankful that they’re alright,” said Steve. He said the couple plans to rebuild, but it will likely be a long wait.

“Much of the town of Washington is still completely shut down with no power, water or gas. Schools are closed. Seth is in kindergarten this year, and we’re not sure when or where he’ll be able to return to school.”

The Lekwa’s church family in Nevada at Memorial Lutheran Church has started a “tornado response” effort. The church is asking that gift cards be sent to the Lekwa’s to help them replace the items they will need. Stores in the area include Kohl’s, Penney’s, Menards and WalMart.

Amy’s family is staying, at this time, with Michael’s parents at Chillecothe, Ill. Gift cards can be sent to them at the following address: Michael and Amy Larsen, c/0 Ritch and Vicki Larsen, 514 Taylor Dr., Chillicothe, IL 61523.

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