Before the dust could have settled from the May 22 tornado, Andrea and Mitch Koetting were at the end of their driveway calling out to their neighbors.
So was everyone else on Horseshoe Drive.
"We're a very close-knit, family-oriented neighborhood. We all treat each other like family," Andrea Koetting said.
The Koettings have lived on Horseshoe Drive, just off Heritage Highway south of Jefferson City, for 20 years.
While a couple of days passed before much organized disaster relief reached their area of Cole County, people like the Koettings were taking care of each other.
"The outpouring of support, when we did get it, was amazing. But we didn't start getting people coming out to check on us until Saturday," Andrea said.
But, she added, "We felt, as a neighborhood, we had it under control."
The Koettings brought in a generator — not powerful enough to provide air conditioning, but that could power a water heater and electricity.
"All of the neighbors that were less fortunate could come take a shower or use the microwave. We just kind of opened our house up," Andrea said. "I guess you could say it was like a food and shower depot in our basement."
While the Koettings' home was touched by the tornado — mainly roof damage and a broken-out front window — it was in better shape than several others within view that remain unlivable.
Mitch and 15-year-old son Cameron went to work with their neighbors, all cleaning up each other's yards. The Koettings' extended family showed up in force starting at 6 a.m. the day after the tornado, helping with cleanup and repairs, and bringing food for the neighborhood.
The Koettings even reached out to a nearby neighbor they didn't know whose home was heavily damaged, letting him know what was available at their home and about other resources in the area, like the food and donation setup at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. The man's family showed up at their house that Saturday, and they've run into each other multiple times since — like they were meant to keep checking on each other.
"It's a bad way to get together," Mitch said.
Andrea added: "But in a way, it was kind of a good way to unite the neighborhood as one."
Other "Heroes of the Storm"
There were nearly 20 individuals and organizations who received plaques Saturday, Aug. 27, 2019, at a ceremony recognizing them as "Heroes of the Storm" for their actions during the May 22 tornado. Read their stories: