Nearly four months later, tornado victims still recovering from devastation

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Aug 03, 2011 - 04:13 PM

Photo: Volunteer Mike Kelley of Chester United Methodist Church in Chester was one of over 80 people who helped with tornado cleanup efforts in Coke on Saturday. Photos by Sherry Hamilton.

Volunteer Mike Kelley of Chester United Methodist Church in Chester was one of over 80 people who helped with tornado cleanup efforts in Coke on Saturday. Photos by Sherry Hamilton.

Photo: Piles of debris still line the roads in the neighborhood nearly four months after the April twister. The county still isn’t sure whether contractors who will be picking up the debris later this month will be able to collect piles such as this that are on private property.

Piles of debris still line the roads in the neighborhood nearly four months after the April twister. The county still isn’t sure whether contractors who will be picking up the debris later this month will be able to collect piles such as this that are on private property.

Nearly four months after a tornado passed through Gloucester, killing two residents, destroying or damaging numerous homes, and wiping out a large section of Page Middle School, residents are still struggling to recover, but they’re being blessed with the help of a string of willing volunteers.

Coke residents Mike and Dolly Lewis said that immediately after the tornado, they walked outside and were aghast at the devastation. Their home, tucked away at the end of a long country lane with several other houses, was surrounded by downed trees, and their lane was completely blocked. Today, their property is largely cleared, except along the edges. Looking across their yard on Saturday, they said they didn’t know what they would have done without the kindness of friends, neighbors and complete strangers.

"We’ve just been really blessed," said Dolly Lewis. "We came out the first day and looked around and just said, ‘what do we do?’ We didn’t know where to start. Then all these volunteers showed up."

"Ever since the storm, people have been coming out," said Mike Lewis. "Had they not, there’s no way we could have done anything approaching this. I want people to know how decent and great these people are."