PORT ORCHARD, Wash. - Walking into her restaurant, Shari Patrick still can’t believe her eyes.
“It’s very depressing, absolutely very depressing to walk in and see it,” she said.
She’s owned Bethel Square Restaurant and Lounge for 21 years. It’s a Port Orchard staple famous for homemade breakfast and pie, but Dec. 18, everything changed when a EF2 tornado tore through town.
“We ran out here and we just saw all the doors wide open, the wind blowing like crazy and stuff just flying,” said Patrick.
The twister threw Patrick’s sign off the building and ripped off the roof, and water damage destroyed the walls. Her kitchen is gutted, drywall is gone and appliances are fried, but the recovery is slowly making progress.
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Workers recently repaired the roof and installed new ductwork.
“I know it’s going to be a lot nicer and look a lot nicer and things will work better, but, until I see it, it’s hard to picture it, but that’s what keeps me going,” Patrick.
Courtney Watson’s also trying to stay positive. Her home was hit hard.
“This is where a tree limb came through the side of the house and it actually went across my son’s bed,” said Watson.
She’s been in a rental for four months, juggling four young kids while her husband is overseas.
“It’s probably the thing that causes me the most stress is not having that normal,” said Watson. “It was a perfect storm, it truly could’ve gone so much worse if it’d just been seconds time difference.”
After the tornado, inspectors went through 566 buildings. Twenty-two were damaged and yellow-tagged and two dozen others were so bad workers red-tagged them, which means they’re too dangerous to be in.
Watson’s home sits in the path of destruction. In December, Chopper 7 captured video of her neighbor’s roof ripped off. The house has since been demolished.
“It genuinely felt like something from a movie. There was noise going everywhere and people and I just stood there for a second just staring and trying to process what I was seeing and figure out what had happened,” Watson said.
Months later other homes still sit empty and destroyed with crumbled walls, caved in roofs and belongings scattered everywhere.
Rebuilding is taking many families longer than expected.
“All of our plans have been put on hold, travel plans, things for the summer because we don’t know what’s going to be going on with the house or when we will be back home or, at this point we just keep saying, if we ever go back home,” said Watson.
“I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I just don’t know when that light’s going to show up,” said Patrick.
Patrick hopes to reopen her restaurant by the end of May.
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