KEMP (CBSDFW.COM) – When a tornado tore through Kaufman County on Wednesday, Jo and Bill Miniat were enjoying retirement in their second dream home on the wooded shores of Cedar Creek Lake.
The couple’s first ‘dream home’ was destroyed by a Tennessee tornado decades ago — then came a devastating deja vu here in North Texas.
“We knew it was gonna hit,” says Bill, perched on a bar stool and looking around calmly at the mess the storm had made of his home, “and that was all there was to it.”
Bill says he was watching televised coverage of the storm when meteorologists warned that conditions were worsening. “All of a sudden I seen that hook… and I knew I was in trouble,” he recalled. “I ran out the door, and I heard it coming right over this hill.”
The Miniats hurried to their safe room, and when they walked out, they knew immediately that their beautiful home had been destroyed.
“I walked out and I says, “‘Jo, it’s all gone!'”
“We didn’t panic,” replied his wife of 62 years, “We didn’t cry.”
“We cried, before,” Bill said. “But, a lot of life has happened since then.”
In spite of the fact that the sky now shines through what was once their roof, the couple keeps it all in perspective.
“Because houses are replaceable,” explains Jo, “lives are not. We got each other.” And then as if in explanation, Bill added, “I’ve almost lost her three or four times: so we appreciate life.”
Outside of what’s left of the Miniat home, 40 foot trees are toppled and others were snapped like dry twigs.
In spite of the extensive damage, Kaufman County Office of Emergency Management officials are thrilled that there were no serious injuries. “It could have been just devastating,” says Debi Nixon, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator. “People were at home at the time it hit, and the scope of the damage. To me, it’s a miracle… I can’t describe it any other way.”
So the Miniats are facing this latest loss with gratitude.
“These people came out in the dark and pouring rain, cut enough trees to where we could get in, says Jo. “My son got a roofer to come out in the rain !”
“We can’t be more thankful for the people that came in and helped us,” adds Bill. “It’s a great world. It really is.”