Bethel Acres Resident Relives Tornado Six Months Later

Tuesday, November 19th 2013, 5:29 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

Six months ago, the first in what would be a string of massive deadly tornados hit Bethel Acres, Carney and Little Axe.

At The Steerman Estates Mobile Home Park, that was pretty much devastated by the May 19 storm, folks are moving back into their houses and things are slowly returning to normal. Residents say that's largely due to the kindness of volunteers.

When News 9 was at the mobile home park the day after the tornado, the clean-up looked insurmountable. But just six months later, all the debris has been removed and in many cases replaced with homes.

The clearest evidence of what went through here is now in the stories of those who lived through it.

"I was watching you all three minutes before it hit," Aaron Ward said.

As it became clear that the massive storm was headed right toward them, Ward headed for his neighbor's storm shelter.

"I told my dog, I'm sorry I can't take you with me," he said. "I was pretty much going bam, bam slamming into the storm shelter when I was trying to get in.

He would spend the following hours and days helping his neighbors and looking for his dog.

"Crying my eyes out because I look at him like my son," Ward said.

His dog would eventually be found three days later buried in debris.

Ward would turn his full efforts toward helping his neighbors. He would eventually join the efforts of the Corps and US defenders Motorcycle Group who has been running the recovery operations at the park. In addition, the group has built 50 storage sheds and helped get running water and sewer to permanent structures.

"It's been six months, I've done this almost every day cleaning up and helping people and I'm just tired mentally and physically," Ward said.

Still, Ward said he is seeing hope and happiness in the eyes of his neighbors again.

"I'm just happy to be alive, this isn't nothing we'll get over it," he said.