Owner of huge greenhouse complex destroyed by tornado says he will rebuild

May 30, 2019 - 6:45 am

Linwood, KS - Mark Illausky says he may be down, but he is not out.

Illausky owns Free State Growers, a 10-acre complex of greenhouses and other buildings along Highway 32 near Linwood, where an EF-4 tornado passed through Tuesday evening. The storm virtually wiped out one of the largest commercial growing operations in the region.

"I think we'll be able to rebuild, it'll just take some time," Illausky said. "We do have one structure that actually is still standing and there's actually plants still in it. We've got a lot of good volunteers and a lot of people have come out."

Licsandro Gamboa crouched next to an orange tractor and watched as a tornado threw trucks across the parking lot of the greenhouse he works at in Linwood, Kansas.

He thought to himself: “I need to see my son one more time.”https://t.co/dTN9Neg05c

— Luke Nozicka (@LukeNozicka) May 29, 2019

Illausky says he's gratified with all the people who have stepped up to help.  One of his employees who did not want to be interviewed was working when the tornado hit. He squeezed into a tight spot between the shipping building and a truck. He is okay, though he has a few cuts and bruises.

Surveying the acres of debris and broken glass, Illausky chose to focus on the people who helped him build his organization.

"We've got a good family of people here and we've always had a good rapport with our families and our customers and everyone, and our vendors too," Illausky said.

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