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Rebuilding In Tushka Continues After April's Deadly Tornado

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Rubble has been piled outside the Tushka school building Rubble has been piled outside the Tushka school building
Crews are cleaning up what is left of the tornado damage in Tushka. Crews are cleaning up what is left of the tornado damage in Tushka. & Dan Bewley, News On 6

TUSHKA, Oklahoma -- Residents in the Atoka County community of Tushka are in the process of rebuilding their lives and their community after a deadly April tornado.

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The EF-3 tornado tore through the town on April 14, 2011, killeing two elderly sisters and injuring 43 others.

5/4/11 Related Story: More Than $1 Million In Federal Aid Approved For Tushka Tornado Victims

"It's just a terrible mess and you can't get the ground clean for the debris that's stuck to the ground, you know," Steve Kelso, with Kelso Demolition said.

It's been 25 days since a tornado ripped through this small Atoka County town, three weeks of a world turned inside out.

"Horrible and stressful," Minnie Gammon, a Tushka resident, said.

Minnie Gammon rode out the storm with her brother-in-law, Kenneth Walker, and four other family members inside this cellar.

"When I came out of that cellar alive, there's no feeling like that especially knowing that tree blew on us," Walker said.

Gammon's house is being demolished now.

"It's really sad but you know, I get to thinking about it, but we have it lucky from what people have down in Alabama and places like that," she said.

The tornado also destroyed a number of Tushka's school buildings; $10 million damage the superintendent says. The students are now attending school at a local church and Vo-Tech. The superintendent says it's still up in the air where the high school will be rebuilt.

The city is also in a holding pattern as it waits for federal money from Washington to help get rid of all the debris

Dan Bewley, News On 6: "Do you ever think it will get back to normal?"
Kenneth Walker, Tushka resident: (laughs) "Yeah, our lives will, my house isn't going to be normal."

But that Tushka Tiger spirit is strong and folks here say they'll be back and they're very thankful that so many made through the disaster.

"We've been lucky that we've survived, that's the main thing that we came out okay," Gammon said.

A benefit concert will be held on May 26, 2011 to help the victims in Tushka. It will be at the Choctaw Events Center in Durant starring Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton.

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