Port Orchard homeowners looking toward future after last year’s devastating tornado

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- The sense of peace soothed by the sounds of crickets is something new for Chris Raymond.

His family has been living at a home tucked behind trees in Belfair for the last three months.

“When we finally go out there, just the smile on our face was, I think, just answer enough,” he said. “We had a place to come back to that we could call home.”

It’s a home Raymond says cost his family every penny they had after a tornado ripped apart their old one in Port Orchard.

“The house is still there, and it`s still almost flat as a pancake,” Raymond said.

The rare tornado stormed through Raymond`s home and his neighborhood last December. Today, his house is barely standing as it sits on the city`s list of demolitions.

“That`s the room that we were in when the tornado hit,” he said while looking at photos of the demolished home.

He flips through pictures of the destruction while remembering the moments before it hit as a calm morning.

“All of a sudden, the lights flickered, power went out,” he said. “Got up out of bed, went looking into the dining room to see what was going on and literally saw the tornado going through my backyard behind my shop.”

What`s left of his auto repair shop sits in the front yard of his new home - just a few motorcycles and cars waiting for time and money to get fixed.

Despite losing almost everything in the storm, Raymond says his family is learning they have all they need.

“Sometimes the most difficult times in your life can be the most enlightening times in your life,” he said. “That`s when you can grow the most as a person.”

While they won`t forget surviving something that could have killed them, Raymond says they look forward to the calm after the storm.

“No matter how bad things get, there`s always a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “Sometimes you might not be able to see it. Sometimes it may feel like the entire world is crashing down on you. Just around the next corner, there`s a new day. And with that new day, there`s a new opportunity.”