Caruthersville and Braggadocio: One year after a killer tornado

Caruthersville and Braggadocio: One year after a killer tornado
By: Holly Brantley
PEMISCOT COUNTY, Mo. - Images of the powerful F-3 tornado that destroyed more than half of Caruthersville are fresh on the minds of residents one year later.
On April 2nd 2007, Caruthersville looks much different than the town of the past, and the virtual war zone that was left after the twister moved through.
Residents are still in various stages of rebuilding. Some still live in FEMA trailers. Others live in new homes, bigger and better than before.
Folks in Caruthersville reflect on the tornado and the year that's past: "I think they've done a heck of a job," said Lisa Dodd. "They really busted their tail around here to get houses back up."
"Caruthersville looks a whole lot better," said Michelle Whitson. "With all the progress we've made it might seem like it's been more than a year. Everyone's rebuilding."
"You always run into people who aren't going to be happy," Norma Linsman said. "You know with FEMA, what some people think they were supposed to get or should get. But, all in all I think they did the best they could and the town looks great."
"I'm pretty satisfied," said Flora Pittman. "I got a new house out of it, so it turned out to be a blessing for me. It wasn't good for everybody though and not everybody feels that way. Some people didn't have insurance. But, with God's help they'll make it through."
People in Caruthersville maintain they are making slow and steady progress.
Meanwhile, in Braggadocio, residents feel the same. But their town lost two residents as a result of the tornado. Elizabeth Crain died just outside the double wide trailer she shared with her son, Earl. Her son Walter died in a Memphis hospital a few weeks later.
Today, brothers Earl and Joe Crain look over pictures of debris left by the twister. The Crain brothers lived along side their mother in Braggadocio virtually their entire lives. They say the memories are painful. "It was about the worst day of my life," said Joe.
Earl explains how they tried to get away, "By the time I pulled the car up to the front door the tornado was on top of us. The next thing I know, three days later I woke up in the hospital. They said mom died instantly and my brother died about a month later. The doctors said they don't know how I survived."
"The tornado was a terrible looking thing," said Joe. "When they told me what happened, they said they didn't get away. I saw the car and that's when I found out mother was killed. At that time we didn't know we were the only ones that lost anybody."
Today, the homes of Earl and Joe Crain are separated by just yards and the FEMA trailer that Joe's daughter lives in. Earl just got a new trailer a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, Joe's family is still trying to sort out if they will rebuild. "Everybody keeps saying to rent," said Joe. "There's no place to rent here and so that's frustrating. Our FEMA obligation is about to run out."
The twister left Earl with many health problems so he's happy to have Joe and his wife, and daughter nearby. "We were born and raised right here," said Earl.
"We know every rock on this road," Joe said.
Looking back the brothers say the year has been a long one for folks in Braggadocio and Caruthersville. "It's been hard," said Joe. "It's just been hard on everybody."