When Disaster Strikes - Twice

It's a good thing Gina Rebitz and Bruce Recker can still make each other happy, because they haven't had much to smile about lately.

"We're not homeless people, but in reality, like I was telling him, we actually are homeless," Rebitz told CBS News correspondent Seth Doane.

They're riding donated bikes, wearing someone else's clothing and, along with Gina's daughter, living in a Red Cross shelter - and feeling helpless.

"The biggest thing is I can't take care of the girls like I should be," Recker said.

"You feel like you can't take care of them?" Doane asked.

"I can't," he said.

They've been at the shelter more than a week now - with nowhere to go.

They had just moved into a trailer in New Hartford, Iowa, where they only spent one dry night before the Cedar River flowed right into their living room, destroying property and possessions.

The family stacked what they could, leaving the home a frantic mess and their minds flooded with the question - what's next?

"I've never been put in a situation like this - I really don't know what to do," Recker said. "Sometimes you want to get screaming mad, but that ain't gonna do no good."

Working the second shift together at a food-processing plant, the family had been living comfortably - even putting money aside.

"We weren't rich by no means, but in a way we was, too, at the same time," Recker said.

That was before Mother Nature dealt them a one-two punch - just a few weeks before the water, there was the wind.

The house they were living in before they moved into the trailer was their dream home. And they were planning to buy it - until a Memorial Day tornado blew it, and their other dreams, away.

"There was a stairwell that led up into the kids' rooms. It was right here above us," Rebitz said.

"There was a second floor?" Doane asked.

"There was a second floor, yeah," she said.

They'd been running errands when the tornado tore through.

"Things were literally picked up?" Doane asked.

"Picked up!" Rebitz said. "Thrown! Just everything. I'm so thankful we weren't home. We would have been killed."

They scoured through the rubble looking for remnants of the life they lost.

"My cat, my house, my life, just everything is gone," she said.

Blog: Learn how Seth got this story at Couric & Co.
With no insurance, most of their savings has been wiped out. They used it to replace what they had lost the first time. And now, that's all gone, too.

"It's kind of devastating. It's not fair," Recker said. "I don't think it's fair."

"Can you start over?" Doane asked.

"You have to start over again," Recker said.

With two homes destroyed, and almost nothing left in the bank, they are starting over - and praying Mother Nature doesn't stop them again.



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  • Seth Doane

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