81-year-old Harrisburg storm victim gets new home - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

81-year-old Harrisburg storm victim gets new home

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Gene Lacey survived the Harrisburg tornado on February 29, but his house didn't. Gene Lacey survived the Harrisburg tornado on February 29, but his house didn't.
Lacey's 1986 Chevrolet pickup was crushed by a tree. Lacey's 1986 Chevrolet pickup was crushed by a tree.
Boxes wait to be unpacked in Lacey's new home. Boxes wait to be unpacked in Lacey's new home.
Some of Lacey's belongings sit in his new home. Some of Lacey's belongings sit in his new home.

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - It's been just over three months since a deadly F-4 tornado tore through the town of Harrisburg.

The storm left hundreds of people homeless, and killed eight.

But, now some of those people who lost their homes and moving back into a new house.

One of them who is moving in is 81-year-old Gene Lacey.

"I was up when the tornado came, it cut right across the southwest corner of my property," said Lacey.

The 180 mile an hour winds hit Lacey's old two story home directly. Tearing off the roof of the second floor and separating the north wall from the rest of the house.

"I was sitting right over there in my favorite chair. And I was listening to them branches and the tops of trees raking down the side of the house. And crashing into the carport."

Lacey crawled out of his house and up the road over tree branches and other debris on that morning of February 29, until he was so winded he decided to sit down and wait for daybreak to make it the rest of the way to help.

"And I was sitting there a little bit and I saw some headlights. So I flashed my lantern at them and the pickup stopped. It was my father-in-law Dr Steve Knight, he said Geno, that's what he calls me, is that you? He got me by the arm and put me in his truck and took me over to their place," said Lacey.

Now Gene's got a one story home and he says it's going to take some getting used to.

"I thought it was a good old house and it was until we had a tornado," said Lacey. " I'm still not as gracious I guess about this one as I was the old one. But like I said I lived in if for 54-years, that makes a difference, you get attached."

And now Gene is going to have to try and figure out how to fit a two-story house into his new one-story home.

"I don't know if I will or not. I'm so weak anymore I can't handle it all," said Lacey.

He doesn't have to. His family is going to be there to help him with whatever he needs. They're just glad he's here to need them.

"First of all we're just so thankful to God that he's here," said Brenda Knight, Gene's daughter. "And like I told him the day of the storm it's just stuff. You are okay, that's what's most important. We are glad he has this house now. And that he has a nice new safe place to live."

Unfortunately Gene's old 86' Chevrolet pickup didn't survive the storm and he says he's not going to bother with trying to repair it.

He's just going to work on getting his new house organized and livable.

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