Residents of McNeill, Miss. rebuild after tornado - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Tornado survivors in McNeill, Miss. rebuild, think about Oklahoma City

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McNeill, Mississippi -

While the New Orleans area isn't spared of tornadoes, it rarely sees storms as powerful as the one that hit near Oklahoma City. But five months ago, in nearby McNeill, Mississippi, an EF-3 tornado touched down and changed residents' lives forever.

It was called the Christmas Day miracle, but there was no happy ending.

On Dec. 25, 2012, the tornado slammed to earth in tiny McNeill, just north of Picayune, It injured two people and destroyed 30 homes, including Jerry and Sue Hubbard's.

It was one of 30 tornadoes that struck that day across the southeast U.S.

Five months later, the Hubbards are rebuilding.

"I told her everything will be brand new. Won't have to worry about nothing tearing up." said contractor Randall Childs.

Insurance has been a hassle, and Sue Hubbard doesn't much care for the trailer she lives in during construction. And while the Hubbards rebuild, they are thinking about hundreds of other victims in Moore, Oklahoma.

"I feel for them and pray for them, and hope that God will work it out for them," said Sue Hubbard.

While the tornado that struck here five months ago was one of the more powerful in our region in recent years, it has had a lot of company. In fact, since 1950, the region within 50 miles of New Orleans has seen 250 measurable tornadoes on record, including eight EF-3's and EF-4's -- but never an EF-5, like the one that struck Moore, Oklahoma Monday.

Last month, a small tornado struck Kenner. Within the last seven years, they've also struck Uptown New Orleans, along Canal Boulevard, off Claiborne and on the West Bank.

"Well I think it just brings on the point that we need to be prepared here in Louisiana, for all hazards," said Pat Santos with the La. Department of Homeland Security.

Storm safety experts say residents should develop emergency plans, map out safe spots in homes such as interior bathrooms, and make sure insurance is up to date and policies are in safe places.

The Hubbards are lucky. They and their family survived, unlike so many others now suffering the loss of loved ones.

Of the 30  homes that were damaged or destroyed during the McNeill tornado, about 25 are either rebuilt or in the rebuilding process.

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