Port Orchard community remains strong as rebuild from 2018 tornado continues

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Tawnia Cope-Crain walked us through what crews have been able to rebuild in the nine months since an EF2 tornado swept through her home.

It’s starting to look normal again – a far cry from December when her house at the end of Tiburon Court suffered major damage.

“A piece of the neighbor`s roof came flying through our garage door,” she said.

And there`s still more work ahead.

“The home next to us was totally demolished,” Cope-Crain explained. “We got to keep our shell.”

A tree fell through their roof after the tornado touched down near the Port Orchard Walmart. The storm damaged dozens of homes and businesses.

“Ripped through these woods, took down trees, stripped others, cut them off halfway and preceded to go into the neighborhood behind us,” Dave Rasmussen with the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management said of the tornado’s path.

“We`ll get back home one of these days,” said Stacy Leonhardt, who survived the tornado.

The Leonhardt home rebuild is still in progress. A plus is that she`s able to watch from down the street.

“My neighbor let us move in with five kids when I couldn`t find a rental,” she said. “That shows you something right there. Everybody does care about each other.”

Some homeowners qualified for low-interest loans from the Feds to get them back on their feet, but others say insurance companies and red tape has slowed some rebuilding to a crawl.

“It`s still in shambles, but I know it`ll be fixed eventually,” Leonhardt said.

But for the families on Tiburon Court, rebuilding elsewhere wasn`t an option.

“Living away from this development, we still came for Fourth of July and celebrated with our neighbors,” Cope-Crain said.

Who does that? This community, this Huntington Estates, because sticking together means enduring tragedy and rebuilding and embracing what a tornado could never take away.

“It`s our home,” Leonhardt said. “It`s where all the kids have grown up and I`m just not - we`re so close to everybody here, we`re not going anywhere.”