Lancaster tornado victims deal with their 'new normal'

Tornado family

Credit: WFAA

Greg Thomas moves his family's salvaged belongings into a motel on Sunday.




Posted on April 8, 2012 at 10:04 PM

Updated Sunday, Apr 8 at 10:26 PM

LANCASTER — On the edge of Lancaster, Greg Thomas and his wife Lori spent Easter Sunday moving into a hotel room.

This is their new home for now.

"It kind of hit home. You just take it for granted. You walk into your house every day and you take it for granted," said Lori Thomas. "I still miss my home."

Their home of more than two decades is now just a shell after a tornado ripped it apart last week. The windows are boarded up and almost the entire roof is covered in blue tarp.

Building officials declared it unsafe to live.

"For me, the biggest thing is that it's my home," said Thomas. "I've been there since I was 21, 22-years-old, and all of a sudden it's gone."

The family is living out of suitcases. They were able to save a few items, including some clothes, toys, and two china sets, gifts from their parents when the couple got married.

They have insurance, but it's the uncertainty that scares them —  the challenges they will face as a family in the coming days, weeks and months.

"It's not knowing," Lori Thomas said. "Where are we going to be? What are we going to do?"

Those questions are the same ones her 13-year-old son is asking.

"Cameron is finding out that life is not a bed of roses. It's not always going to be perfect," Lori Thomas said. "The only question he keeps asking me is, 'When are we going home?' I have to tell him it's going to be a while."

This is a family In limbo during the rebuilding process.   But, Lori Thomas told News 8 that friends, family, volunteers, and her husband's co-workers from Richland College are helping them.

It's that support that's giving them strength to stay focused on their future.

On Easter Sunday, they even maintained one family tradition —  even if it was just in a hotel room.

"We've made a tradition to hide the Easter basket," Thomas said. "Now, he [Cameron] has to find it in a hotel when he comes home."