PORT ORCHARD, Wash — The calm water and quiet are what attracts so many people to Port Orchard, but last December proved that the community is what makes people stay after an EF-2 tornado ripped through the city.
"The cul-de-sac right here is an extended family," said John Mueller, a resident of one of the hardest hit neighborhoods.
Aerial video from December shows the Mueller family home after the tornado rolled across his street. The storm with wind speeds reaching between 120-130 mph tore the roof off the house and cracked the foundation.
"It's very humbling to watch that, your house," Mueller said.
The family is at the very beginning of a complete rebuild.
"I'm looking forward to just those small steps," Mueller said.
Reminders of the tornado damage can be seen across the city six months after the storm came through the community. Many homes still have blue tarps on the roofs and a handful of houses are uninhabitable.
The Salvation Army is leading the charge to get families whole again. They still have 16 open cases since the storm hit. Nonprofits are working with the uninsured and underinsured who are in need of repairs.
Numbers from Kitsap County show the storm caused substantial damage to nearly 50 homes, properties that were either yellow-tagged, meaning the safety is questionable and off-limits to unauthorized personnel, or red-tagged, meaning they are unsafe to occupy, by the county.
It’s a rebuilding process that will continue for some time.
"When the cameras go away that doesn't mean that the disaster goes away. Recovery is a very, very long-term process," said Kitsap County Director of Emergency Management Elizabeth Klute.
For Mueller, moving was never an option.
"This is America in its purest form right here in this little cul-de-sac and there is nowhere I'd rather be than right here," he said.
A home he lost last Christmas but one he hopes to be back in before the new year, one year later.