Victims maintain faith after Rice tornado destroys home

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on October 24, 2010 at 10:30 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 24 at 11:32 PM

Rice tornado

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RICE, Texas — No more than half a dozen homes in this Navarro County community were damaged by the tornado that touched down early Sunday evening, and there were no serious injuries reported.

But it's difficult to image how the Butler family could endure any more tragedy after what happened to them.

Tom High was just outside of his sister's home when he felt the wind... heard the fury... then turned around and saw the funnel cloud.

"I was just standing there in shock," he said. "This can't be happening. The only thing I could do is just run and bang on the door; they opened the door; we looked at it for a while; and it just happened so fast — just like that."

He and his sister, Sonia Butler, barely had enough time to do what they'd always been told: Get to the bathroom and cover up.

"You could just hear the wind coming through the house and it felt like a big suction," she said. "And then it sounded like a loud train, and it only lasted not very long, but after that — after we came out of the rest room — our house was just gone."

Sonia's husband, Raymond Butler, did not make it that far. But he somehow picked the only room in the house that was still intact for his shelter.

"I just got down on my knees and said, 'Lord be with us.'"

The rest of Butler's house; his two barns; his trucks; a trailer; and a giant pecan tree were all demolished by the twister.

But then, we heard him say this:

"It bypassed my daughter's grave," Butler said. "It didn't even touch my daughter's grave."

Sharla Butler, who had been a track star at Lancaster High School, died last year at age 16 suffering a form of encephalitis.

What's more, both Raymond and Sonia Butler lost their mothers in the past few months.

As if such a tremendous losses were not enough, now this. But it is not enough to knock down Raymond Butler.

"I'm going to say this," he said defiantly, standing in the midst of the debris of his home. "Satan, where's your best punch at? Because it still hasn't affected me yet."

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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