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Special Report: Finding Hope in Destruction

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It has been four months since a tornado touched down in Gaylord killing two people, injuring forty others and devastating countless homes and businesses.

In much of the time since, the Gaylord community has worked together to both rebuild and heal.

Dave Boughner and his family lived in Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park. It was one of the hardest hit areas in the path of the tornado. He was home with his teenage son when that tornado moved in.

“I heard like a freight train,” Dave said. “It sounded like a major big train coming through my house, went to my bedroom and looked out and I saw a carport fly over my house and hit my neighbor’s house.”

He told his son to brace himself and then a tree came through the roof.

“The only thing I remember is getting thrown through my bathroom wall and then coming to scream for help and my son coming to find me,” Dave said. “I couldn’t feel my legs.”

Neighbors raced to help Dave. He was trapped under two walls of a house

Dave had a punctured lung, broken ribs, several fractures in his spine and he couldn’t move from the chest down. His injuries were so bad that he had to go to .

“It probably took me a good couple of weeks coming out of all that to realize what’s going on but they started telling me the extent of my injuries,” Dave said. That was kind of hard to take.”

His come was destroyed but Dave’s focus had to be on his recovery– which required extensive therapy.

“It was very difficult for me– I gave my therapist a lot of attitude,” Dave said. “But, you know, I pushed through it every time they gave me a new goal to get. I did it.”

Tracey Newsome and Mike Blackstock are occupational and physical therapists at the .

“I genuinely enjoyed each session coming in to try and figure out how in a different way I can convince Dave to do what I want him to do today on this session,” Mike said. “And so I would then try to come up with different reasons. ‘Well, this is why we should do it today.’”

“I’d pick on them, I’d joke around a lot, but I did the work and that was very hard to do that work.”

Finally, on July 22 after more than two months in the hospital, Dave was able to go home.

“If I could jump for joy, I would have been jumping for joy,” Dave said.

But where would he go? The storm destroyed everything. Well, while Dave focused on his health, his community in Gaylord was focusing on all the rest.

A since Dave could no longer work. A stranger heard their story and offered a place to stay. Organizations stepped up and got Dave a power chair to help him get around.

“I couldn’t believe the town did that. I mean, that’s very, very overwhelming for me, you know, just seeing how this town came and not even just the town, just people that heard my story and all just help in helping me out,” Dave said. “And I’m very, very grateful.”

He is so thankful to everyone who had a hand in saving his life and helping his family bounce back.

“It takes special people to take care of what happened to me,” Dave said. “I’m trying now to thank people here in Gaylord (because) without them, I don’ think I’ll be here.”

It’s inspired Dave as he focuses on his next chapter.

“You know they helped me out a lot and that’s how I’m going to live from this day forward,” Dave said.

“I don’t take anything for granted anymore care too. Life’s too short to just be careless anymore.”

Physical therapy continues back home in Gaylord. Dave is working each day to be a little stronger than he was before.

Dave hasn’t been able to work since the tornado— and is waiting to get through the disability process.

If you’d like to help Dave and his family,

To hear Xavier’s full interview with Dave, click to listen to the latest edition of ‘the four’ podcast.