By Ed Curran

(CBS) — Six months after a deadly tornado tore through downstate Washington, Ill., the town continues to persevere.

The images were unforgettable: homes turned into rubble.

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Washington has made some progress, but the road to rebuild the town is still a long process.

CBS 2’s Ed Curran reports.

The sounds of construction are strangely comforting to hear, residents say.

More than 1,100 homes were damaged or destroyed by 190 mph winds.

More than 600 building permits have now been issued. But Mayor Gary Manier says there are other hurdles, like the debris embedded in the soil.

The University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service says the only way to solve that problem is to remove the sod and 3 inches of soil – a huge task not covered by insurance.

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But the mayor wants it to be perfect.

“I want them to go in the yard barefoot, just like we did when we were kids,” he says.

Dave Bandy shot video of an EF4 tornado before it hit his home.

Six months later, the Bandy home has been reduced to a hole in the mud. Construction will start soon. Like most re-builds, it’ll be an improved home.

“We hada ranch and we’re going to go two-story, but we’re only gaining maybe 100 square feet or (200),” Jenny Bandy says.

Nearby, the Stephens family home is also improved: a two-story home with a tornado safe room that wraps you in concrete.

Along with the new construction everywhere, there are still personal belongings scattered around. People drop them off at the local police department.

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Of all the homes destroyed here, there are two dozen that haven’t been touched. The town needs to know what the owners want to do, or they’ll have to step in themselves.