Cleburne family finds keepsakes in the rubble of home

Posted Friday, May. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Geraldine Williams stood outside her old room on the second floor of her parents’ home Thursday afternoon.

Brilliant sunlight filled the hallway, but the light was not from the windows in the New Orleans-style house near the southeast shore of Lake Pat Cleburne.

The roof had been ripped off.

“I’m still in shock,” Williams said. “Storms out here are scary anyway, but 150 mph winds?”

The National Weather Service’s preliminary report on Thursday put the peak wind from the EF3 tornado that hit the ara Wednesday night at 140 mph — a bit less than Williams’ wind assessment but enough to peel off a roof, strip wallpaper and carpeting.

The home has been owned for 28 years by her parents, Dr. Victor Abello, a retired Cleburne pediatrician, and his wife, Elenette. The couple was visiting family in San Antonio when the twister struck.

Williams rushed from her Fort Worth home to see the damage. When her parents arrived, they began picking through the heaping mounds of debris.

The Abellos immigrated from the Philippines. Williams and her brother, Tovi Abello, who now lives in California, grew up in the home and graduated from Cleburne High School.

Mingled with the debris were family keepsakes — Williams’ Barbie dolls and Nancy Drew books; Tovi Abello’s track and field trophies; their father’s medical books and cherished classic novels.

Remarkably, Elenette Abello’s china was untouched in the cabinet.

The storm uncovered items the family hadn’t seen in years.

“Look, Mom,” Williams said, reaching into her pocket. “I found my baby bracelet and a Princess Leia trading card.”

They all laughed.

Victor and Elenette Abello said they were glad to be out of town Wednesday night.

“If we were here it would have been terrible,” Elenette Abello said. “We would have had a heart attack.”

“But,” Victor Abello said, “part of life is adversity and you have to live with it. We are safe now, and that’s the most important thing.”

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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