Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Despite destruction, Glenallen residents persevere

Sunday, April 9, 2023
Joshua Wells (front) helps Phil Stanfill (left) and Tony Jansen (right) remove a wall from the Stanfills' collapsed house. The building was the third oldest in town, according to Patty Stanfill.
Photo by Zach Huffman

The sound of chainsaws and heavy equipment filled the air in the rural Missouri village of Glenallen on April 6. Dozens of residents and volunteers were hard at work clearing the devastation wrought by the tornado that ripped through the town at approximately 3:30 a.m. on April 5.

The storm claimed the lives of at least five people, including Destinee Koenig, 16; Michael McCoy, 18; Jimmy Skaggs, 37; Susan Sullivan, 57; and Glenn Burcks, 62. Another fatality occurred after the storms crossed over into Kentucky.

Nearly every building in the town of 57 was severely damaged or destroyed.

Despite all of the destruction and loss, perseverance was in the air as piles of debris were cleared and priceless family heirlooms salvaged.

Phil Stanfill and his extended family own six properties in the town. All of them suffered extensive damage. The houses have been in his family for generations, and he plans to recycle as much of the materials as he can.

“I’m going to build a new building on this same spot using this wood,” Phil Stanfill said.

His sister, Patty Stanfill, was devastated by the destruction, but relieved her entire family had been unharmed.

“We lost nobody; we were lucky,” Patty Stanfill said.

She directed a team of family and volunteers in recovering family treasures from the ruins of a house that had completely collapsed. While four of the six houses may be repaired, two were total losses.

“You can’t replace these two houses. That one’s been in our family for years,” Patty Stanfill said.

Citizens of the town came to help each other rebuild their lives.

Joshua Wells volunteered to help the Stanfills, despite having his own home destroyed. He took dozens of pictures of the immediate aftermath and shared them with media outlets.

“It draws more attention, and it brings more people and donations to help out the community,” Wells said.

Rebuilding will be difficult, according to Wells; most households in Glenallen don’t have insurance.

“You don’t retire a millionaire and then live here,” Wells said.

This wasn’t his only experience with severe weather. Wells survived a tornado in the neighboring town of Marble Hill, Mo., in 2002. His best friend, Billy Hoover, did not.

“I’m the two-time tornado surviving champion,” Wells said.

Patty Stanfill wants everyone to be familiar with the local storm shelters. She used West Lane Elementary in Jackson, Mo. as a storm shelter and is concerned not many people know of its availability. The Missouri government’s website lists public storm shelters by county.

Donations and volunteers are being accepted. The KFVS12 website provides detailed information on how to help.