COLONA, Ill. — When Brittney Thomas, 31, of Colona moved into the city of about 5,000 people, she didn't expect to have to deal with bills totaling more than $20,000 in just 10 weeks.
"Between the tornado that hit our front porch off, Georgiana passing away and now the house fire just within the last two months, it's really hit," Thomas told News 8's Collin Riviello.
In April, an EF-2 tornado ripped through Colona, destroying a gas station across from Thomas' house. The winds knocked down her porch's roof.
Then about six weeks later, Thomas found her cat, Georgiana, shot and paralyzed in the legs outside of her home. It was a mysterious shooting that the Colona Police Department says is still an active investigation.
Thomas' series of unfortunate events didn't end there.
On Thursday, June 1, Thomas, her boyfriend and her children were at a little league baseball game in Rock Island when she got a call from a neighbor saying her porch was on fire.
"We had somebody call and say our house was on fire," Thomas said. "We don't know exactly what happened. We came back and the fire was out."
The only possessions Thomas and her family had left were the clothes on their backs, the baseball equipment their kids had used just minutes beforehand and the car they used to drive to the game.
"I'm still processing it," Thomas said. "It still hasn't hit me all the way."
Colona Mayor Don Ropp says what Thomas experienced the past two months is unfortunate.
"The City will try to do what we can do to help out and enforce the ordinances that can be enforced," Ropp said. "We'll do what we can do. I know there's a strong community here."
When asked why Thomas won't move her family to a different city, she said it's because Colona is "home".
"We don't move because this is home to us," Thomas said. "Colona [is] home."
She adds that the community has been supportive to her and others affected by the fire.
"Like today my kids came home and the school sent them home with tennis shoes; all they had was their sandals," Thomas said.
But it's Thomas' boyfriend and her four children that help to keep her grounded and moving forward instead of sulking in the past.
"We keep the hope up for the kids," Thomas said. "We can always go cry in a corner, they don't see us. But as long as my kids are awake and are thriving. I'm going to be happy go-lucky."