As Johnny Stutzman surveyed the wreckage of what had been his house, all he could do was muster a laugh. "My front porch is laying over there on the other side of the road," he said, pointing to a splintered pile of rubble that had landed amid trees across a Kentucky state road when a deadly tornado hit the night of December 10. Stutzman, 23, is part of the conservative Swartzentruber community of about 40 Amish families in the area. He and his wife survived the tornado — climbing into their basement just as their windows shattered.
But his neighbors, Jacob and Emma Gingerich, and two of the Gingerich's five children were killed when their trailer home was ripped from its frame. Emma Gingerich was Stutzman's cousin. Family members and friends from five states had arrived by bus early last week for the Gingerich family funerals, and they stayed to help with clean-up and the start of the rebuild. They slept on the floors of homes still standing. Members of the Kentucky National Guard had stopped by earlier Thursday to drop off sleeping bags. In the afternoon, as a heavy rain began to fall, several men were unloading a pallet of new windows that had just been delivered.