Pleasanton's 130-year-old Fairmount church obliterated by tornado

PLEASANTON, KS - A 130-year-old church and the civil-war era cemetery beside it bore the brunt of a tornado that ripped through Pleasanton, Kan., Sunday afternoon.

The Fairmount church, built in 1884, was reduced to splintered wood by the storm, which first developed in Hume, Mo., then hopscotched into Kansas, uprooting trees along the way.

 

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Behind the church, the headstones of several graves were toppled by the storm. Late into the evening, teary-eyed relatives of the departed arrived to check on grave sites.

Linn County historian Ola May Earnest lives near the church and couldn't even make it to her basement the storm arrived so quickly.

It didn’t take long for residents to come together and start cleaning up what is left of the historic church.

And by the time the sun came up Monday, church members had already starting clearing the debris.  "When you see this, its heart breaking," life-long resident Cindy Earnest said. "Just like a piece of you is gone.  When you walked in the floors creaked. When you sat on a pew, they creaked. To rebuild that just wouldn't have the same meaning."

The tornado narrowly missed several homes, but took out two barns, a shop and several headstones at the cemetery. No one was injured. 

"A few tears will be shed," Rod Earnest said. "We'll clean it up and start again."

Syed Shabbir contributed to this report.

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