Tornado survivors sympathize for those in Sandy's path - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Tornado survivors sympathize for those in Sandy's path

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Barbara Harbin recalls the April 27th tornado and is grateful assistance is already lined up for damage from Hurricane Sandy. Barbara Harbin recalls the April 27th tornado and is grateful assistance is already lined up for damage from Hurricane Sandy.
ATHENS, AL (WAFF) -

Hurricane Sandy's relentless grinding across the Northeast offered a grim dose of déjà vu for an Athens family still recovering from the April 2011 tornadoes.

Bobby and Barbara Harbin have been living in a FEMA trailer since their home of almost 50 years was shredded around them. 

"It was so much damage," recalled Barbara Harbin, fighting back tears, "and your home, to see that all you worked all those years, and had, just gone." 

The Harbins received help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and then from Athens Habitat for Humanity, which built them a brand new house on the site of their destroyed one.  The new structure is now completed and the Harbins expect to complete their move into it in a matter of days.

Greg Miller, executive director of Habitat in Athens, said families whose lives are plowed over by Sandy will likely end up in a disturbed state he's seen before in victims of weather disasters.

"A lot of them initially look shell-shocked," he said.  "But you have to get through the steps you have to follow, with FEMA and whomever, in the state, dealing with it all."

As disaster veterans, the Harbins have felt special sympathy for those in Sandy's path. 

"I feel sorry for the people because I know what they're going through," said Bobby.

Remembering all the help they received after their home was hit, Barbara has found it heartening to see all the assistance already lined up for Sandy's aftermath.   

"It just seems like now it's wonderful that people are getting together and helping," she said.  "There is hope.  There is hope for a better day.  God has just blessed us so much and it is a better day." 

As the finishing touches have been completed on their new home, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, the Harbins have been gratefully cataloguing its most important feature, thick walls of steel reinforced concrete, and an all-concrete encased safe room which could well withstand a direct hit from a future tornado.

They're also grateful for the help they received from FEMA although, after a year and a half, they admit they'll be happy to move out of their FEMA trailer and may hold a celebration when it's finally hauled off.

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