Utica Rebuilds

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Utica is a town on the mend physically and emotionally. Makeshift memorials to the victims of the April 20 tornado have sprouted up in the downtown area.

Businesses are slowly reopening on Main Street as roofers, bricklayers and construction crews take over the small town of 1,000.

"It looks 100 percent better than what it did. It's a slow process but we're coming back," said Utica resident Doug Porter.

Melissa Harmon owns a bar and restaurant along Utica's Main Street. She says her business has come a long way from that devastating night.

"People were in here in eating. The food was still on the tables, but there was glass just everywhere. It was a mess," said Harmon.

Utica residents and business owners say not much good can come from a tornado, but they're trying to make the most of the opportunity to rebuild the downtown and the community's spirit.

"We needed a facelift and God kind of gave us one. Everybody's trying to perk up. They're planting flowers.You can see new life," said Harmon.

Melissa Harmon says reconstruction has been a journey. All of the paperwork, fighting over a small pool of local contractors and working around spring rain storms. Mother nature dealt Utica a tough hand, but this feisty town is making the most of it.

Working with federal officials, city leaders plan to add more parking space to the downtown area and more green spaces in the community. They're also looking for the best way to memorialize the victim's of the Utica tornado.

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