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Victoria Sletta Johnson: A roof overhead but no Christmas tree

Victoria Sletta Johnson is happy to be alive and happy to have a roof over her head for Christmas. However, she's not putting up a tree or decorations this year.

"Pretty quiet," is how she describes her holiday plans.

Sletta Johnson, her upstairs tenants and three little girls who were guests of her tenants survived the July 11 tornado in the lower level of Johnson's house.

The entire second floor of the house was ripped open for the world to see.

There were "no walls to hide behind," and Johnson took offense to the "gawkers" who drove by her home, only to take pictures and move on. A do-it-yourself type, Johnson has spent the last six months trying to pick up the pieces. She removed the remains of the home's second floor and capped off the basement with a new roof. She's still picking up debris thrown into her pasture land and trees. Doors from a turkey barn are "strung in the trees" providing "free windchimes," she said.

The costs of rebuilding have taken a toll.

"I'm doing without some things," she said. "I'm living within my means."

She hopes to eventually rebuild her garage, but rebuilding her faith in nature may take a while longer. An avid outdoors enthusiast who loved to have the wind blow in her hair, Johnson said she's a bit "edgy" and "wary" when it comes to stormy weather now. She said she doesn't want to "hate nature" and will call upon her strong fortitude to deal with it.

"I am very thankful to be alive," she said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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