Tornado recovery continues in Pekin, IN; some families continue to struggle
PEKIN, IN (WAVE) - Across Southern Indiana and Kentucky, many families are still trying to recover after the deadly March storms. Many of them lost friends and loved ones and their entire homes.
WAVE 3 went to Washington County where we met Terri Gibson and her husband, Jeffrey Smith. The family survived the deadly tornado but lost their home in the storm that also decimated Henryville. The family of 4 is living in a small trailer next to where their home was. They tell WAVE 3 it's almost impossible and they need help.
It was March 2nd. Gibson heard a tornado was hitting Pekin. She heard a roaring noise checked on their daughter next door, then she and Smith ran for cover in the bathroom.
"And everything collapsed," said Gibson. "The house was shaking, glass breaking. The roof actually came off," she said, gesturing with her hands.
Gibson said her husband dug them out. She said he held that roof and saved their lives.
"So, God had to have a hold of it, too," Smith said. "There's no way I could've lifted it up."
Now the family of 4 lives in a cramped trailer next to where their home of 13 years used to be. They don't have insurance.
"It's almost impossible to live here, but we know we have to," Gibson said.
Gibson said she and her husband have been together 14 years. "We have an 11-year-old and a 4-year-old that don't understand where did their house go? Where did their things go? We can't replace them. It's been really hard," she said as she wiped away tears.
They have no running water or heat. The roof leaks. It is patched up by tarps and old billboards. It too was damaged by the storm.
"The roof's right here," said Smith as he pointed up above his head. "You gotta really be careful getting up and laying down. We giggle at night," Smith said with a smile as he pointed to their bed resting on an area atop a steep set of built-in stairs in the trailer. "Either her or me is gonna hit our head on that cabinet up there every night." That cabinet sat mere inches above the pillows on their bed.
Though volunteers are helping, some delivering food daily. A group of volunteers delivered boxes of food to the family during our story.
"They're helping," said Smith. "A lot of volunteers. Thank all the volunteers that's been up and down the road."
Though the couple said they are very grateful for the volunteer help, they said it just isn't enough.
'Yes, we need a lot of help," said Gibson.
Smith said 'We need something we can call home again."
Struggling to recover, all the while knowing it could've been much different
"Just down the other road, was where the family of 5 got killed," said Gibson. "I think it's brought us closer together. We lost our personal items, but we still have each other," she said as she looked at her husband.
WAVE 3 needs to let you know, FEMA said the Southern Indiana Disaster Recovery Center, on the Ivy Tech campus, in Sellersburg, will close at 6:00 p.m. Friday night.
You have until May 8th to register for disaster recovery assistance. To do that, call 1 (800)-621-FEMA (3362).
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