New Pekin family rebuilds, still healing year after tornado - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New Pekin family rebuilds, still healing year after tornado

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NEW PEKIN, IN (WDRB) -- The signs and symptoms of the tornado are still prevalent in an open field in New Pekin, Indiana. Aluminum siding is still here, along with a set of stairs that used to lead to ahouse. It's been a difficult year, even for those who survived it.

"We watched it come over the hill. My son video it all," said Gene Lewellyn, a tornado survivor. "He came running down the stairs and said 'Dad, we gotta get out of here.' I said we don't have time to get out of here now."

Gene Lewellyn and his children weathered through the March 2nd, 2012 tornado together - huddled in their basement.

It took heavy machines months to clean up from the tornado that took only a few seconds to wipe out Gene and his wife Jeanie's home.

"We moved back several years about 34 years in 5 minutes time," he said.

The most difficult scene - he says - was learning they lost their neighbors the Babcocks - a young family of five who were killed in an instant. The youngest child, an infant named Angel, was rescued but died days later at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, KY.

"And that little angel, we seen them carry her out of the field and she looked like a little mud baby... She was covered in mud and that was tough," said Gene Lewellyn.

The Lewellyns have since rebuilt their home. But they've been through 7 insurance adjusters, 5 contractors and are still out thousands of dollars.

"It's different. I'm not going to cry," said Jeanie Lewellyn.

Talk of the tornado, makes her upset.

Jeanie says she tries not to think about those who died because it upsets her. She often places flowers at the memorial site across the street where the Babcocks once lived.

Gene Lewellyn says he thinks most of the town has since gotten over the tornado. He says it's still fresh in his mind because of the fact they live in such close proximity to the devastation.


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