ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – A calm breeze now blows down the south Abilene street where Nichole Chevrie lives. Two years ago on the same lot, fierce winds ripped off her neighbor’s roof and damaged her home so badly it would have to be completely rebuilt.
On the morning of May 18, 2019 Chevrie had been looking out her front door after hearing ferocious winds whipping outside. It wasn’t until a flash of lightning exposed something more sinister in the sky above her.
“I could see debris in the air. Actually, I didn’t know what it was until lightning struck and I saw a tornado,” said Chevrie.
Chevrie says she ran back into her home to get her family to safety. After the storm passed, they went to assess the damage but quickly realized they were stuck inside.
“We were kind of trapped because the roof from the house across the street hit the front of the house and blocked us in,” said Chevrie. “We had to have the fire department come and help us out through the window.”
Chevrie says the EF-2 tornado pulled her home near the intersection of South 6th and Bowie Street up off its foundation, broke windows and pulled off a part of her roof – prompting an eventual rebuild that took 8 months to complete.
Now in her new home, Chevrie says memories of the tornado come back to her, but even more so for her grandchildren.
“Anytime there’s a storm of any kind, the first thing my grandson says is, ‘Do you think we’ll have another tornado?'” said Chevrie.
But something more powerful than recalling images of storm damage is remembering how quickly friends and neighbors came to her aid, she says.
“Without them we probably wouldn’t even be here right now,” said Chevrie. “We may have moved somewhere else. I would just love to thank everybody who came out and helped us.”
Among the ranks of those cleaning up the mess caused by the May tornado was the United Way of Abilene.
President Dr. Cathy Ashby says the kindness of the community is also what sticks out in her memory when recalling the impact of the May tornado. She estimates 5,000 volunteers hit the streets helping clean up debris, taking survivor’s information and distributing water and meals to those affected.
“Communities like Abilene come together and help each other get through situations like that,” said Dr. Ashby.