Help continues after Tuesday night storms in Taopi

(ABC 6 News) – The Rice family home in Taopi has been badly damaged during Tuesday night’s storms and it’s a house that has been in the family for decades.

Now, the family is just grateful for what they can salvage.
"Pictures don’t do it justice. Like I showed up and started crying like everything is so destroyed," said JoEllen Rice who grew up in the home.

This is the same house where JoEllen’s father, Kenneth grew up. JoEllen said she was on the phone with her dad 20 minutes before the storms hit. Her dad, who storm chases was concerned with how strong the winds were and was able to get to safety just in time.

Despite broken windows and other parts of the house at a complete loss, it’s the little things the family can save that’s a shining light.

"Like my China cabinets, my grandma had these China cabinets that sat in the middle of the living room that didn’t even get touched. Like cleaning over there, my grandma’s button, a picture of my grandma on her 100th birthday. That’s the stuff, like the little things."

It’s not just JoEllen helping her dad rebuild, a family friend drove three hours from St. Cloud. He said he was just there having a normal weekend a few days before the storm and now, it’s a complete 180.

As for the rest of Taopi, Mayor Mary Huntley is optimistic for the road ahead.

"We have so much now. We’re really grateful," said the mayor. "We will not be shy about reaching out if we have that need again. Because there are 100s of phone calls that I can’t return and I know someday they’ll understand. We may need them all again at the end of this, we’re going to have a celebration, and we’re going to have people back from everywhere that we can and we’re going to try and feed them for a day."

Mower County Emergency Management said it’s overwhelmed with donations, specifically water and toothbrushes. They are not in any need of physical donations or volunteers, they just ask people to keep Taopi in their thoughts.