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Rain doesn't put a damper on people's perserverance

Update: 6:01 pm GIFFORD -- The weather looks gloomy, but the people working here say they're not letting the rain dampen their spirits.
Update: 6:01 pm
GIFFORD -- The weather looks gloomy, but the people working here say they're not letting the rain dampen their spirits. One man says he has a special reason for wanting to rebuild as soon as possible. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has more.

Lots of people were out helping in the rain Thursday. As if it wasn't bad enough for all these homes to be destroyed or damaged, now everything is soaking wet, too.

But, people say it's just another obstacle they plan to overcome by working together. Kurtis Johnson wasn't home when the tornado ripped through Sunday, but as soon as the storm passed, that's where he went.

"I knew my neighbor's house was blue and when you come running down, you see the blue house, but I didn't see my house, because it wasn't there."

His home was lifted off its foundation, the wind pushed it toward the street. Kurtis says the only thing which stopped it from going further was this tree.

"I've been wanting to take that tree out for a bout the past six months. An old sycamore tree, big leaves everywhere, and we're going to keep it now."

"We" includes his wife, who was inside their home when the tornado hit.

"She's seven months pregnant so we made sure she got a doctor's visit. The baby's good. We're both good. No scratches."

So, ever since, Kurtis says he and his friends have been chipping away at all the debris. The tornado caused it, now the rain makes it a little messier.

"Wet. The yards are like mud. You're not going to be able to get here very easy."

Volunteers and workers across the village say the weather isn't slowing them down either.

"Doesn't hurt anything. I'd rather have the rain than what happened to a lot of these people."

People, like Kurtis, say they're going to be stronger because of this and they're excited to see what the future holds.

"Hope to have it all cleaned up by the end of the weekend and maybe start building in the next two weeks. We're going to build something pretty identical to what we had. We're just going to put a basement in this time."

Kurtis says he wants to have a new home ready by the time his little one is born in a couple more months, so he's hoping for sunnier skies as they keep working around the village.
Original: 4:56 pm
GIFFORD -- A damp and dreary day has settled over Champaign County, but volunteers and families here have been working through the wet weather. It's now four days after the storm and people are making progress with cleanup.

The rain didn't stop people from working hard. They say they wish it had been, maybe 30 degrees warmer and not so wet, but they kept doing what they've been doing all week.

It includes homeowners, friends and family members, working crews and even complete strangers; the volunteers. Some people were still putting up tarps over open roofs Thursday, trying to preserve whatever is left inside.

Even though conditions weren't ideal, people say they've definitely seen worse weather in the village. Electrical crews are still out working to restore power to parts of town which are still in the dark.

People brought in some big equipment to help the demolition process, even though the muddy yards got a little slick.
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