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Lancaster Storm Victims Still On Bumpy Road To Recovery

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LANCASTER (CBSDFW.COM) - Retired school teacher Shirley McLaughlin is still learning some tough lessons, even at age 68. “Since the tornado, it has turned my life upside down,” said McLaughlin.

Not much is left of her Lancaster home after a tornado ripped it apart it on April 3, 2012. “I’ve lived here for 20-something years. There’s a lot of memories here,” she recalled as she walked through the remains of her house.

It’s been two and a half months since the storm destroyed McLaughlin’s home and she is still finding the road to recovery a difficult one. “It’s sort of hard not to have a home to go to anymore.”

Before the storm hit, McLaughlin’s house was completely paid off. She was, however, living on a fixed income and was forced to drop her homeowners’ insurance, because she couldn’t afford it.

Here’s the tragic irony. The former math teacher, at one point, had no mortgage to worry about, but now finds herself in an apartment paying $750 a month for rent.

Ronnie Lowe is Executive Director of the Lancaster Outreach Center. Lowe says tornado victims keep coming to his office for help, but help is getting harder to provide. “We do have a tendency to forget, once the disaster is over,” explained Lowe. “Now we’re getting to the phase where it really takes money.”

Homeowners like Tammy and Chris Woolard and their three adopted children are a perfect example. “Every time we think we’re finally going to catch a break, we don’t,” said Tammy.

The family’s stretch of bad luck has been relentless. Tammy and Chris were both diagnosed with cancer seven years ago. They both beat the disease.

This past October, Chris had a kidney removed. Tammy was laid off from her job that very same day.

The April 3rd tornado that destroyed their roof only added insult to insury. “I didn’t go through chemo to get killed by a tornado,” the 41-year-old said as she chuckled.

woolard family Lancaster Storm Victims Still On Bumpy Road To Recovery

Tammy and Chris Woolard and their three adopted children (courtesy: Woolard Family)

Repairs to the roof cost the Woolard family thousands of dollars in deductibles. It was a small price to pay compared to other storm victims.

But when you add that cost to the Woolard’s mounting medical bills, it’s proof that even the most minor damage can leave a major impact. “I always look at it like, there’s someone worse off than we are,” said Chris.

The Lancaster Outreach Center continues to take donations for tornado victims, while the Essence of Fitness Charity has set up a fund to help McLaughlin rebuild her home.

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