In Tornado Alley, losing a brand-new home comes with the territory

VILONIA, Ark. - In Vilonia, fires now consume useless possessions. Slabs mark the spot where homes used to stand. And residents sift through thickets of junk for the important stuff left after a massive tornado - a child's toy, picture albums, the family Bible.

Dicky Shannon and his wife, Mary Jane, had almost completed their new home when the twister hit on Sunday evening. The floor went in earlier this month, the driveway last week. They had lived there just four or five months and were "still in the process of trying to finish up," said Shannon.

Outside lies what's left of a collection of Chevys he was restoring, including a 1939 Super Deluxe he would drive to car shows.

Mary Jane Shannon showed a CBS News crew what was left of the living room.

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Mary Jane Shannon shows CBS News' Dean Reynolds what's left of her living room.
CBS News
She said she had five minutes to get to the safe room they built. Ten people rode out the storm in there.

"Only thing I heard is the roof leaving when the roof left," Dicky Shannon said.

The Shannons' new building here was tempting fate. A tornado hit Vilonia in 2011.


Dicky Shannon is philosophical about their loss. He said dealing with tornadoes is just "part of the territory" when you live in Tornado Alley.

"I've learned here all my life," he said. "It's nothing new to me."

The Shannons say that when they look at what's left of their home, they are amazed no one was hurt.

"God took care of us, let me tell you," said Mary Jane Shannon. "He had his hand over us."

The Shannons hope to rebuild their home in time for Thanksgiving, and will count their blessings when they move back in.


  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.

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