‘From bad comes good:' a Portland tornado survivor one year later

Posted: 8:25 PM, Jun 22, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-22 20:25:18-04

One year ago Wednesday will be a day that Portland resident Sue Burns will never forget.

On June 22, 2015, an EF-1 tornado (winds between 73 m.p.h. and 112 m.p.h.) tore through the city of Portland leaving behind downed trees and damage to many churches and homes. The Goodwill location had collapsed following the tornado.

Burns’ home was directly in the path. She had just gotten back home from a dentist appointment and was on the phone with her daughter. She says suddenly weather conditions outside took a turn for the worse.

“All of the sudden my walls were shaking,” said Burns.

Burns had little time to take cover. She would end up holding on to a recliner for dear life.

“The roof was gone, the walls were gone, and right where I was sitting and right next to my shoulder came a 40-foot beam,” said Burns.

One year later, Burns says she’s lucky to be alive. The outpouring of support from the entire community is something Burns will never forget.

“You realize after a tornado just how close you came and how quick you could of been gone,” said Burns.

Children and grandchildren recently chipped in to purchase a plaque that hangs on the wall of her new home, a quote to commemorate the tornado.

“It says ‘storms make trees take deeper roots’, it was a quote from Dolly Parton,” said Burns “They had the date ‘6-22-15’ put on the back of it for us.”

“It will never leave that wall, you do have to be strong for other people and we had a lot of wonderful strong people helping us during that time,” said Burns.

Throughout the city of Portland, there are still many reminders of what happened one year ago, tree’s missing where they once stood, and many have missing branches.

For Burns a plaque hanging in her dining room serves as a reminder, what being Portland strong is all about.

“It’s a rebirth for Portland, I think it’s going to do nothing but good for our city,” said Burns.