Written by: Liz Dorland, Communications Manager
Through scattered debris in farm fields and piles of rubble, the Jerez family searched for familiar pieces of their home, a place torn apart by a massive tornado on June 16, 2014.
“When I came home, there was nothing left. I was sick,” said Clarita Roblero.
With no where to go, Clarita, her husband Carlos and their two children came to the American Red Cross emergency shelter in Wakefield, which is where I met them. At the safe shelter, the family of four joined 23 others who were also displaced and needed a safe place to sleep, a warm meal, comfort and compassion from Red Cross disaster workers.
“We feel good being in a Red Cross shelter because we don’t have any family or friends here,” said Carlos Jerez.
Side-by-side with new-found friend and Red Cross Shelter Manager Martha Connot, the Jerez family told me they’re lucky no one was home when the tornado hit because they’re certain they would not have survived. Carlos works in Sioux City and that Monday morning, he and Clarita decided 10 year old Andie and 6 year old Reggie would also go to Sioux City for the day because Clarita had to work.
Clarita worked at the Luna Cafe in Wakefield. Even though Wakefield is only about an hour away from the Village of Pilger, Clarita said she could see the tornado rapidly close-in on the sleepy northeast Nebraska town.
“I saw the black sky, it was swirling and I saw the debris falling from the sky,” she recalled.
Clarita along with her eight Luna Cafe co-workers got into the basement moments before the tornado ripped through the building. “When I came outside, debris was still flying. I had no idea what my home looked like.”
Sadly, like many houses and farms in rural Wakefield, the monstrous tornado shredded their home. The Jerez Family took me to where their house once stood and I decided to walk the fields with Carlos, both of us were on a mission to find pieces of their home that now lay in miles of farmland. Carlos told me he and his wife came to the United States 12 years ago with nothing. They settled in Wakefield where they both had good jobs and started t their family. As he finished sharing their story, I watched him look the ground and his eyes fill with tears as he realized again he would need to start over.
I offered Carlos comfort with a hug and reminded him the Red Cross is here to help them get back on their feet. He nodded and said, “I know. I’m grateful for the support. The Red Cross has helped us with food, clothing and given us a place to stay until we move into our new home.”