Aumsville tornado, 5 years later: 'God still has plans for me yet on this Earth'
AUMSVILLE, Ore. - What was the weather like 5 years ago today?
Juanita Nichol remembers.
"I looked in the rearview mirror to see if anything was coming, and there was this whole black cloud, and I thought wow, I've never seen a cloud so dark," she said.
Nichol happened to have just stepped out of work at the Nichol Plumbing Shop.
When she returned, she found the store she and her husband started in 1959 in shambles.
"I was so thankful that I wasn't in that office," Nichol said. "Right where I would've been sitting was a pile of brick."
Two other businesses were completely leveled by the EF-2 tornado that hit Aumsville on December 14, 2010.
It was one of Oregon's few - and worst - twisters.
The town was in disbelief.
"It looked like a bomb had gone off," said Jeff Radke, owner of the Pizza Peddler. "That was the street where what we call the Dorothy House was lifted off the foundation and moved a good foot and a half."
Nichol Plumbing rebuilt, dedicated a year to the day after the storm.
And a new business has opened in town: the Tornado Gym.
But 5 years later, memories of the tornado still strike a chord in the heart of Police Chief Richard Schmitz.
"Citizens are important to us," he said Monday, fighting back tears at the memory of that day. "They're family. So to see something like this happen, you take it to heart."
The townspeople were fortuante: only two people suffered minor injuries in the storm.
And for Nichol, a deeply spiritual woman, her faith remains unshaken.
"I've learned two things about God: how much God loves me, how well he took care of me, and that he's not through with me yet," Nichol said. "He still has plans for me yet on this Earth."