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Community Steps Up for Victims of Western Wash. Tornado

The most powerful tornado to hit Washington state in more than 30 years leveled some homes on the Kitsap Peninsula. (Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office)
The most powerful tornado to hit Washington state in more than 30 years leveled some homes on the Kitsap Peninsula. (Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office)
December 27, 2018

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. – A rare tornado touched down in western Washington last week, causing devastation and heartache for Port Orchard residents just before the holidays.

Now, community members and groups, including Kitsap County credit unions, are pulling together to support those affected.

About 250 homes were damaged by the most powerful tornado to hit the state since 1986, but no one was injured or killed.

Shawn Gilfedder, president and CEO of Kitsap Credit Union, says he could see the tornado forming from his office in Bremerton.

His credit union has set up a Disaster Recovery Loan program for folks who were in the tornado's path, allowing them to borrow up to $5,000 with no payments for 90 days.

"Just trying to do as much as we can to provide relief to those individuals that are applying for financial aid through FEMA, which can take weeks if not months," he states.

Kitsap Credit Union has teamed up with other credit unions on the Kitsap Peninsula and raised more than $10,000 for the local United Way, which is helping families recover.

Gilfedder notes that Washingtonians are not prepared to respond to a tornado.

"You may look at a home and it may appear that it could be reconstructed or repaired, but the reality is that it can't, and many of these individuals that own these homes don't have the insurance coverage or the means to be able to do so," he explains.

Along with the United Way, Gilfedder points people looking to help with recovery to the Red Cross and South Kitsap Helpline, the region's food bank.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA