Looking back at the Kirksville tornado five years later

It's hard to believe that today marks the 5 year anniversary of the EF-2 tornado that hit parts of northeast Missouri. KTVO Meteorologist Vanessa Alonso looks back on day many people in the Heartland will never forget.

It all started at 5:35 p.m. on May 13, 2009, when a supercell thunderstorm produced an EF-1 tornado off of Highway Y near Milan damaging a few homes.

Then, that same storm continued to head east along Highway 6.

The tornado didn't touch down again until just outside of Novinger as an EF-2, reaching winds in excess of 115 mph. Jeff Dodson was the mayor for only three weeks when the tornado went through the city.

"There was a tornado warning that had been issued in Green City. I was communicating with central dispatch in Kirksville. They let us know they were initiating the sirens. It was amazing how quickly our lives changed," Dodson said.

What happened next is something he stills remembers as it was only yesterday.

"The sun was still shining here in town. I saw the tornado in a stove pipe shape and within a matter of moments, it went from a stove pipe shape to a wedge tornado. I was a very scary thing to be staring down at. The storm came in from the southwest. We had quite a day from that point on," Dodson said.

But the EF-2 tornado was not done just yet, after leaving a path of damage in Novinger. it's path was dead set for the northern end of Kirksville.

The tornado hit kirksville just a little after 6 p.m. It caused major damage to the Jim Roberson's Car Dealership and to the Lakeside Estates Subdivision.

The tornado killed three people in its path. Joyce Green was killed when the tornado passed near Milan, destroying the mobile home where she and her husband Paul lived. His life was spared. Alisha Brune and Gus Ochoa were killed when the twister leveled their manufactured home northwest of Kirksville. The Adair County Family YMCA soccer fields were dedicated in memory of Ochoa.

Dodson said it was the early warning sirens that saved people's lives in Novinger.

"People were out planting gardens, working on their vehicles, playing ball on the diamond. The sirens saved people's lives. We had a 13 minute warning that gave time for people to get out of harm's way. No one was injured seriously," Dodson said.

Despite the damage it left behind, Dodson said the tornado helped bring a community together.

"Our community as a whole came together. Everyone was working together. The volunteers from all over the area. It's amazing how people came together that day," Dodson said.

The tornado caused extensive damage to about 58 homes in Novinger. The Novinger Baptist Church and two historical city buildings were a total loss in the storm.