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Family returns to Bend after Hurricane Michael destroys home


Last week, Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle. At least 50 people have died from the storm and losses are estimated at $8 billion to $11 billion.

NewsChannel 21 spoke Friday to a woman who grew up in Bend, but has been living in Florida for the past three years.

Kaleo Renstrom said she could have never imagined this happening. In less than two weeks, Renstrom’s life was flipped upside down.

“Everything was fine — and then all of a sudden, we had the weather station on and they said there was a hurricane and in Florida — that happens all the time,” Renstrom said.

But this time was different. It was Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm with the most intense landfall of any U.S hurricane since 1969.

“Emergency alerts on phones were going wild saying, ‘Get out now’,” Renstrom recalled.

Renstrom grew up in Bend but has been living in Panama City, Florida for several years.

And last week, she experienced weather Central Oregon has never seen the likes of.

“Everybody has been so supportive, and like I said, we’re one of the fortunate families that has a ‘Plan B’ We have our ‘tribe’ on the West Coast,” Renstrom said.

Kaelo and her boyfriend Ed, along with their 1-year-old daughter, fled to to Georgia to escape the storm, wearing just the clothes on their backs and carrying an overnight bag.

After several days away, they were finally cleared to go home.

“We got to the outskirts of town. We live right off the highway and we couldn’t even get into our road. So we had to park the car a couple blocks away and climb some trees to get to our house that was completely under trees,” Renstrom said.

And the home she once knew was no more.

“It was still standing, so we were like, ‘We’re good!’ But finally got in, and it was completely underwater,” she said.

“So immediately we were like, what can we get, what can we grab — everything was just floating,” Renstrom said.

Kaleo and Ed decided she and the baby would fly back to Bend to take shelter with her parents — leaving her home behind.

“It’s always going to be with you, because you think about your first house where you bring your baby home, or your first house you started making memories with your significant other, or your first house where you brought your dog home,” she said. “All that stuff is gone. You can’t go back and visit it, it’s not going to be there any more.”

But she also said it’s not the material things that matter in the end, –it’s the people.

“It’s still really hard to think that everything you’ve worked so hard for, everything you’ve built for your family is gone. But at the same time, keeping that mentality that we’re healthy, we’re safe,” Renstrom said.

Kaleo is returning to her job as a nurse at St. Charles, while Ed will continue working for Panama City for the next few months while dealing with their destroyed home and cars.

Renstrom said people and pets still need help in Florida.

To donate to recovery efforts, click here:

And to check out Kaleo and Ed’s GoFundMe page, click here:

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