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Oakfield Family Shares Memories of Tornado Nearly 20 Years Ago

The second week of April marks Severe Weather Awareness week for Wisconsinites.  This is a way to bring attention to the importance of being ready when bad weather strikes.

One Oakfield family knows all too well the power of Mother Nature, and how she can tear everything apart in an instant.  In a way, for elementary school teacher Mandy Pavelchik, her old family home will forever be the face of the July 18th, 1996 tornado.  Thee twister with winds estimated at 265 mph slammed Oakfield, Wisconsin shortly after 7pm.  And just like 80 percent of this Fond du Lac village, their house was destroyed.  Parents Sandy and Rick Reehl had moments to take cover in their basement under a ping pong table.  When the storm hit, Many was babysitting at a neighbor's house across the street.  Her parents are still grateful to this day she wasn't with them at the time.

The Reehls wouldn't let Mother Nature's wrath ruin them.  They rebuilt in the same spot modeled almost exactly after the previous 2-story wooden house. It took only three months for them to move back home.  They did one major upgrade.  A small 8 by 6 storm shelter in the basement.  This is where they keep their most prized possessions.  their family photos.

Forecaster Marc Kavinsky with the National Weather Service office in Sullivan knows very well about how far we've come in terms of better warning time, but he says we're still not where we need to be.

Kavinsky does worry about extreme weather.  He says he believes it'll become more and more frequent and perhaps more deadly.  Keep in mind there were no deaths in Oakfield due to the tornado of '96, but people might not be so lucky with future storms.  So this is why, in his opinion, being better weather stewards is more important than ever. 

The Reehl family says insurance paid for rebuilding their home.  They didn't even have to pay a deductible.   They do say if another one hits in the exact location again, they'll definitely be moving. 
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