Surviving the Barneveld Tornado

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GREEN BAY, Wis (WFRV) When it comes to tornadoes – an EF-5 is as strong as it gets. This vicious act of nature wiped the village of Barneveld off the map – killing nine people in 1984. When that tornado hit it had wind speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour. One man who lived through the storm has very few memories of the day he almost died.

Imagine being tossed about by a tornado – which killed three members of your family and not recalling a single moment of it. That is what Trevor Simon must deal with every single day.

“Remembering something you had and losing it, would be lot more difficult than starting from the ground up,” said Trevor Simon, who now lives in Green Bay.

Thirty-one years ago on a June night in the village of Barneveld, an EF-5 tornado wiped this community off the map. Nine people died including Trevor’s parents and an 8-year-old sister.

“Did I wake them up coming to get me? Ultimately was that their demise?” said Simon.

Not quite two-years-old at the time, he was found blocks from his home lying near railroad tracks after the storm passed.

“They originally thought I was a pet dog, wasn’t until they got up close that they knew I was a little baby.”

Taken to UW Hospital in Madison – placed in intensive care for weeks – his battered body, paralyzed from the waist down – eventually healed.  Taken in and raised by his uncle and aunt – his psychological wounds took a bit longer.

“Anytime there was thunder and lightning I’d go hide in the closet and start crying until it passed.”

Until he was a teen, his nightmares often involved storms.

“Every time I’d have a dream – it (storm) would slowly progress and get closer – I’d want to taunt it and take it on.”

Menacing figures he would eventually learn to face head on.

“It is not until I learned to let go of things – accept who I was- that life started getting better for me.”

While Trevor’s life has obviously changed because of this tragic day – he is determined not to question the fact he survived and his family did not.

“Everything they say happens for a reason. There is always some greater meaning behind all actions. You can ponder about it all you want.”

He has found peace within himself in part, because it was a tragedy  he simply cannot recall.

“I think honestly it’s for the best.”

Trevor says he moved to the Green Bay area from southern Wisconsin roughly seven years ago to get away from all the attention he still receives – from surviving the Barneveld tornado.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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