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Friend: Vilonia couple recovering after storm
Question of the Day
Sowards‘ family had just moved that day into a new home, near the top of a mountain just inside Faulkner County limits. The nearly mile-wide tornado missed Sowards‘ home but struck others nearby, leaving behind only concrete slabs.
“We said, ‘Do you know that a tornado hit yesterday?’” Sowards said. Then 7-year-old Asher responded, “Yeah, I knew it was in Vilonia, and I was really afraid that it was going to hit my friends’ Tyler and Cameron’s house.”
Sowards sighed. “And I had to explain it.”
Both April and Daniel Smith, the boys’ mother and stepfather, survived the tornado that obliterated their brick home. April Smith has a broken pelvis, hairline fractures in both of her legs, minor lacerations and had suffered a collapsed lung, according to Sowards. Daniel Smith had a skull fracture, deep cuts and a shoulder injury. They’re in stable condition at a Little Rock hospital, recovering in different rooms that are in the same hall. Sowards said the Smiths are declining media interviews for now.
A few days after the tornado hit, Sowards wrote a widely shared post on her blog about how her husband one of the first people to arrive at the Smiths’ residence and learn about the deaths of Cameron and Tyler. The post has received more than a million clicks, she said.
“Her faith before was impressive just to see,” Sowards said. “But this is so far beyond anything like that, where she’s standing now. She’s been pretty much stripped of every earthly thing. … The fact that she still remains faithful is a huge testament that it’s genuine.”
Authorities say the tornado killed 15 people and destroyed hundreds of homes. Faulkner County officials announced earlier this week that the death of a baby who was born after the tornado hit has been attributed to the storm, because of the mother’s injuries. President Barack Obama is scheduled to tour affected areas Wednesday.
Cody Harper, 16, lived two homes down from the Smiths. He’d see Cameron after he got off the school bus, and together, they would walk toward Cody’s home while talking about basketball.
“He was one of like the coolest kids I ever knew, like the sweetest little kid you’d ever meet in your life,” Cody said. “He’d always be smiling, always in a great mood.”
Cody said his 9-year-old sister would often spend nearly the entire day at the Smiths’ home, playing with Cameron and Tyler. The Harpers’ home was also destroyed from the tornado, but the family survived.
School counselor Michelle Fowler at Plaza Towers Elementary School - a Moore, Oklahoma, school where a fierce EF5 tornado struck last May - said parents should try to help their children understand a disaster event as soon as they can. It helps the children make sense of what happened, which allows them to cope better, she said.
“All they really understand is that they have their friends’ borrowed video games,” Sowards said about her sons. “And they’re like ‘How do we give them back?’ …They don’t know how to handle these problems. It’s just going to take time.”
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