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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Tornado recovery: Steelman Estates resident, son, receive trailer to call home

  • Kristina Miller and her son, who have been living in a tent since a tornado ripped apart their home in Steelman Estates on May 19, can move out of a tent they’ve been calling home and into a 24-foot travel trailer donated to them on Friday.
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    Kristina Miller and her son, who have been living in a tent since a tornado ripped apart their home in Steelman Estates on May 19, can move out of a tent they’ve been calling home and into a 24-foot travel trailer donated to them on Friday.
    “Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful,” Miller said as the travel trailer pulled in to her lot Friday afternoon. “I’m so excited — everything I’ve needed God has provided.”
    With volunteers from near and far assisting every step of the way, there were lots of smiles — and tears of joy — when the trailer finally arrived.
    Miller and her son, Monty Wilburn, 11, stayed a couple nights with friends after the tornado destroyed their home and most others in her addition. But knowing she needed to be out there with all the helpers working to clear debris, she wanted to stay on site, so they moved into a tent set up next to their heavily damaged mobile home.
    “I’ve never liked tents — I don’t like roughing it,” she said, but she’s been doing it to help out with the cleanup.
    “I’m so thankful for very single volunteer — it’s been so amazing,” Miller said.
    Miller and her son were home when the EF-4 tornado ripped through the mobile home park off SH 102.
    The first signs of trouble were baseball size hail, she said, and then they sought shelter in a neighbor’s cellar, and just in time.
    She described the tornado as being huge and said “we were directly underneath the eye.”
    Then it became still and they saw debris before shutting the cellar door.
    “You could hear a train coming down on you,” she said. “We barely made it. — God sent me to the cellar.”
    “When I walked out and saw this mess, I was so devastated,” she said.
    While her home was partly standing and heavily damaged, she was able to save a lot of precious items from her home, including some photographs.
    She described all those helping her these past two weeks as a “flock of angels.”
    Among them was a group of volunteers from near and far who have slept in their cars and made due with very little in order to lend a helping hand.
    Now many of those volunteers are staying at the Evangelist Center in Shawnee, where Tonia Allen, of God’s Hand Up ministries in East Texas, has helped coordinate some of the needs for Miller and other tornado victims.
    Page 2 of 2 - Allen, who said it’s about providing help to the community in need, said “our goal is to help rebuild some of those homes,” adding they have a pledge of building materials and more volunteers to help over the long haul.
    With so many volunteers and so many acts of kindness, it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all. But for Allen, who discovered Miller and her son was living in a tent, the group worked to find the trailer, which was donated.
    “It’s all based on simple compassion,” Allen said.
    Stick Keiner of Tecumseh is one of many volunteers through the US Defenders motorcycle group who’ve set up shop to cook and distribute meals and other needs.
    “We’re bikers coming together and working for the community,” Keiner said, adding they’re ready for whatever the residents need.
    As cleanup continues for many others in Steelman Estates, countless volunteers from all over the U.S. have converged on that area, each having different stories about why they’re here to help.
    One of those persons is Melissa Hines from Duncan.
    “I had it in my heart to help,” she said, and helping get a donation of heavy equipment operators to that area for cleanup.
    While the single mom said she is coordinating volunteers, what started small has snowballed into an ongoing effort to help the residents of the mobile home park
    “It’s not me — it’s all the people volunteering,” Hines said. “I couldn’t do this by myself.”
    Allen agrees.
    “If it wasn’t for volunteers,” none of the help would be possible.
     
     
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