What tornado in Sunrise?
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What tornado in Sunrise, Plantation taught its victims

More than five months after a powerful nighttime tornado destroyed homes and uprooted lives, optimism has faded about how quickly recovery would come. Some homes have yet to be demolished, many others are unrepaired, and for survivors, memories have barely faded.

“To be truthful, I have a little hesitation about living here again,” said Maria Doud, 30, as she stood Wednesday in front of her empty house on Northwest 10th Street. “It was very scary.”

But she, like others who lived through the Oct. 18 twister, say the storm left them a legacy of lessons far greater than the numbers: 130 mile-an-hour winds and 136 homes severely damaged in Sunrise and Plantation. Among those lessons:

#1 Appreciate life in all its fragile wonder

“I came very close to dying,” said Naresh Nasta, 70, whose house on Northwest 8th Street will be leveled in the weeks ahead. “So I am thinking, life is beautiful. Live every day. Keep a clean heart. You never know what can happen.”

#2 Pay attention to warnings

The storm struck about 10 p.m., when many people were watching television and saw a warning that a severe storm was approaching. But few thought to run to an interior hallway.

“What I learned is to be more respectful of Mother Nature,” said Pete Conde, 55, an unemployed medical technician. “You can’t live in fear, but I do look at the skies differently now.”

Doud’s advice: “Find a place with no windows, and have a flashlight.”

#3 Be prepared to fight

Nasta and electrical engineer Chet Lampert, 41, both battled with insurance adjusters to get what they thought were fair settlements. After months of haggling, Nasta received $338,000.

Lampert has begun repairs, but predicted he would have to litigate a final insurance settlement. “Everything is a pain, everything is a problem,” he said.

#4 Expect trauma

After the roof was torn off their house, Randa Kader and her family of five moved into a rented apartment. “Until this happened I never knew how it would feel, how truly depressing it is,” said Kader, a banker.

#5 Weigh the choices: rebuild or walk away

Conde chose to rebuild and made that his full-time job. With a prompt $100,000 insurance settlement, he was able to move back three weeks ago.

Nasta decided not to rebuild because “that takes too long.” Instead, he is looking to buy elsewhere.

Gail and Vivi Assidon are grappling with what to do. He was president of the homeowners association and they rebuilt when Hurricane Wilma tore the roof off in 2005. Even though the house is now a pile of rubble, Assidon last week cut the grass and trimmed the trees.

“It’s a loss if we don’t come back here,” he said.
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