WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Nine years ago Thursday, an EF-4 tornado tore through Washington and left behind devastating damage. Now, the community is looking back at its path to rebuilding.

“My son who was home from college saw the tornado through the kitchen window and said we need to get downstairs and then within a matter of seconds it hit,” said Tyra Clark, Washington resident.

The tornado resulted in the death of three people and flattened more than 1,100 homes. Clark recalled the moments she realized her two-story home was destroyed.

“We were looking at the sky and we had stairs to nowhere,” Clark said. “It was just glass, and fiberglass, I mean it was just a mess.”

The damage left behind sparked a major response effort from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross, local churches, and community members.

“I can never forget the evening we had to shut the borders down because doctors and nurses were trying to come in. We had probably 200-250 people at our triage center from the medical industry that were treating people,” said Mayor Gary Manier, City of Washington.

Following the 2013 twister, neighborhoods that were turned into fields of debris are now symbols of strength, with many of the damaged or destroyed homes since being rebuilt.

“I think the resiliency of our neighbors and family and friends and residents were just incredible because I don’t think any of them ever thought about not rebuilding,” Manier said.

Manier said when Washington reviews its Disaster Recovery Plan, it now has a whole new meaning.

“That Disaster Recovery Plan is so important and now when we adopt it every year. We take it a little more seriously,” Manier said.

Manier added that he believes Washington is a stronger community, because of the challenges it faced. He said neighbors became closer while helping each other through the rebuild and he’s proud of where the city is.