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Oklahoma tragedy brings back memories for Laurel County tornado survivors


LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - More than a year after a tornado outbreak destroyed hundreds of homes in Laurel County, the survivors say stories from Oklahoma hit close to home.

Every time a strong wind blows, Donald Rhodes finds himself seeking refuge in the only part of his home he feels completely safe, his basement.

"They scare me. Any little wind or storm comes, it scares me. I can't get over that," says Donald Rhodes.

14 months later, many in Laurel County are still putting little bits of their lives back together. Some have built storm shelters. Others have reinforced their basements. All say they can relate to what they're seeing in Oklahoma.

"Like us. In shock. You can't believe it happens to you, but it does," says Eddie Williams.

Eddie Williams lost everything. When we spoke to him a week after the March 2012 storm, his family's clothes were still in the trees and volunteers were helping him search for valuable coins.

"It gets to you. Keeps eating at you. But you fight back and keep going," says Williams.

Like the tragedy in Oklahoma, the Laurel county tornado brought about loss of life. Six people were killed in the East Bernstadt area. Two of the victims lived across from Rhodes.

"There was four of them in that trailer, it took it 250 feet down over the mountain. Two kids in it, one had an eye put out, the other lost a leg," Rhodes says.

The day after, Rhodes says he felt sick and knows the victims in the Midwest will feel overwhelmed.

"I guess it brings out the worst in some, but the best in others. Yeah, you got people never speaking to you, come around and help you," Rhodes says.

Several people have installed storm shelters that, some say, can hold several dozen of their neighbors in the event of a tornado.


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