family loses home, survives Christmastime storms
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[December 29, 2015]
By Letitia Stein
(Reuters) - Larry Wilkins' 34-year-old son
was alone in family's double-wide mobile home in Holly Springs,
Mississippi, when the first winds of a lethal storm system began gusting
last Wednesday afternoon.
Bruce Streeter was looking for his keys to leave when the clouds
outside turned ominously dark.
Streeter ran into a closet, ears popping as the walls began to cave
in while a tornado tore through the area, Wilkins said on Monday in
a telephone interview. Before the winds died down, Streeter had been
swept into the top of a tree, ultimately landing on the ground about
800 feet from the home.
Streeter is currently at a hospital recovering from injuries that
his father said are expected to keep him in a wheelchair for the
next three months.
"I donít see how he made it," said Wilkins, a 56-year-old
maintenance worker. "This took everything. Ain't nothing left."
The twister that hit Holly Springs was just one of the holiday-week
storms that killed more than 40 people, as several days of tornadoes
and flooding pelted much of the U.S. South and Midwest.
Among the few things that survived at Wilkins' home were the steps
to the porch that he had built and the family's beloved German
shepherd. On Monday the family returned to their site to pick up the
Wilkins was able to salvaged little else in earlier trips to the
house, which he visited on Christmas Day, and a few photographs and
some clothing were the only items he found intact.
Wilkins is grateful that his son was the only one at home when the
tornado twisted through town, blasting winds up to 140 miles per
hour in the immediate area, and higher in some parts of the region,
according to the National Weather Service in Memphis, Tennessee.
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His wife and adult daughter were out doing some last-minute holiday
shopping at the time and Wilkins was at work about an hour away in
Southaven, Mississippi, a suburb of Memphis.
He and his family now are living in motels and waiting to hear from
their insurance company.
"It ain't like I've got a home now," he said. "I am just here and
there and ... I donít know. It's kind of frustrating. Nothing to do
about it but take it a day at a time."
(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Editing by Patrick
Enright and Bill Trott)
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