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Community bonds strengthened following tornado

Community bonds strengthened following tornado

May 26th, 2019 by Samantha Pogue in Local News

Jefferson City Jays football players Bryant Dipe, Sam Jakob and Harrison Mobley walk down storm-damaged Capitol Avenue on Friday, May 24, 2019, to hand out hamburgers and water from Paulie B's food truck.

Photo by Samantha Pogue /News Tribune.

Gallery: May 22, 2019, Tornado Photo Gallery

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Despite a devastating aftermath of destruction following Wednesday night's tornado in Jefferson City, generosity also prevailed.

It continues for those residents most affected by an outpouring of donations to the tornado shelters, American Red Cross, first responders and their neighbors.

A walk down Capitol Avenue just between the blocks of Lafayette and Adams streets, a community's love could be found Friday morning. City workers were out cleaning up debris in lots, along sidewalks and in the streets. Workers were attempting to restore power lines for those residing and operating businesses along the street. Hired restoration crews were boarding up windows, assessing damages and fixing roofs.

And neighbors were helping clean up debris, cutting down streets and checking in on one another.

"A nice elderly couple that live here that own rental properties, I helped and cut down some trees for them. Bringing the community together is what I see," said Jacob Rowden, who lives in a house along Capitol Avenue with his girlfriend and their dog, Boomer. She had completely restored it when she bought it three years ago.

"Once the power is back on, we'll start really cleaning up," he said. "It will be a while for sure, but I'm glad everybody was safe and are helping each other. I know it is a tragedy, but I think it has and is going to bring the community on the same level and will clean it up. That is important."

Rowden and his girlfriend's home suffered some structural damage, primarily having to replace all their windows that were blown out due to the tornado that directly hit the Capitol Avenue area. They are still finding glass, but they have cleaned up a lot and are now trying to help all their neighbors.

While neighbors, workers and others clean up, secure and assess structural damage, local organizations and businesses are making sure those living in the Capitol Avenue and surrounding communities have supplies and the food and water they need.

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Central Bank had a tent set up and was giving away free food and water Friday, as did Love2Nourish. Encore Department Store gave away pizza, water and food Thursday.

Paulie B's food truck also secured a spot along Capitol Avenue on Friday, cooking up burgers and hot dogs at 10 a.m. Paul Baker, who owns Paulie B's food truck and restaurant that both opened last year, said they first served food, water, coffee and whatever first responders assisting with the tornado and affected areas needed Thursday at his restaurant.

"Several fire departments came in," he said, noting he plans to continue to pass out prepared food and water he received from several food suppliers to those in need on Capitol Avenue. "Everybody was helping out. The community has supported us, so that is what we need to do the same for them. Everybody should help each other out."

Baker also had help from several Jefferson City Jays football players, who were helping to cook the burgers and hot dogs, as well as walk the neighborhood to hand out the items for free to anyone who was hungry or thirsty. Having worked with the high school football team for fundraisers, Baker said he believes the players also want to give back to the community.

"Our main goal as a football team is to do good for the community. We were all very devastated when we saw the damage because it was unprecedented. We had never seen it this bad before. We always did community service, but in these circumstances, we felt the need to go out and help the community," Jays football player Tyler Johnston, 16, said. "The community has been so thankful. I think we all have stuck together really well and goes to show you how well our community reacts to this kind of pressure and how good we are together."