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Halloween storm warnings ring true for survivors of deadly tornado

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The Worley Lumber Company after the March 2, 2012 tornado The Worley Lumber Company after the March 2, 2012 tornado
Brian Sill Brian Sill
Sill's damaged home after the tornado. Sill's damaged home after the tornado.
Sill's repaired home Sill's repaired home
Carrie Dalton Carrie Dalton

PEKIN, IN (WAVE) - Time heals. But after an EF-4 tornado took lives, rending and shredding the town of Pekin, Indiana on March 2, 2012, a year and seven months isn't nearly enough distance to close the wounds.

"I was on the phone with my wife when it hit, so she knew I was okay," Brian Sill recalled. "But then we both stayed panicked because we didn't know for sure where our kids were at."

They would have five anxious hours before their family would come back together. His home remains a work-in-progress.

"I got the landscaping done the last couple of weeks," said Sill. "That's how long it takes to get all this stuff done, when it's torn all to pieces."

The wind's wrath took Sill's RV repair business. Insurance replaced the building. His next-door neighbor, Worley's Lumber Co. was back less than 30 days after the storm turned it to splinters.

Customer loyalty can restore livelihoods, but the EF-4 tornado took far more.

"There was actually a family of four that perished," said Carrie Dalton, a Pekin resident.

Angel Babcock, only 15-months-old, made it five when she died in the hospital. A cross marks where the twister struck her family's mobile home. Sill can see it from his back window.

"I used to sleep through a thunderstorm and not think a thing about it," Sill said. "Now, they keep me awake. The tornado happened in daylight, but I don't want something hitting while we're sleeping, and not being able to do anything about it."

Dalton and her two children began decorating for Halloween weeks ago. She's relieved that officials have heeded forecasters' warnings, and postponed Pekin's trick-or-treating until Friday.

"They're okay as long as they can still go get candy," Dalton said. "That's all that matters. I like it better Friday anyway, because of school."

Sill couldn't agree more.

"You don't want to have the kids out in something," he said. "Because you never know when it's just gonna drop out of the sky."

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