Rick Cheyney

Rick Cheyney at his home on Jacksonville's 11th Street Northeast, still undergoing reconstruction from last year's tornado, earlier this month. (Serena Bailey/Special to The Star)

When the storm hit, Rick and Mindy Cheyne were huddled in the basement hallway of their house on 11th Street Northeast, covering themselves with pillows.

Their ears popped, they heard glass breaking, debris flying and what they later realized was their roof coming apart.

“In about 10 seconds it was over,” Rick said.

When they walked out, the roof and most of the ceiling was gone. The next morning their insurance agent told them the house would be totaled. It was an assessment they said they expected.

“I don't think we'd ever have felt safe if it had been rebuilt,” Mindy said.

The Cheynes had bought the house in 1996. After they were told it had to be demolished, they considered moving elsewhere, but in the end decided to build anew on the same land. The new house will include a safe room downstairs.

The Cheynes are now renting a house in Possum Trot. They hope to move back into Jacksonville soon, but it’s going to take some time for this familiar plot of land to feel like home again, they said.

“It feels strange pulling in the driveway and a different house sitting here,” Rick said. “You know, we came in, 22 years, to the same house. It feels funny.”

The landscape of the neighborhood has changed as well, they said. With so many trees destroyed by the storm, the view and the sounds are different.

“The wind is different up here than it used to be,” Mindy said. “We were up here a couple weeks ago one morning in the house and heard the wind and it was it was ferocious.”

Most of the belongings they salvaged after the storm were placed in a shed they haven’t touched since.

“It was put in there wet and we don't know whether any of it’s any good, whether it's all just going to be trashed and mildew and mold,” Rick said.

The storm has given them a new perspective on the objects they own, they said.

“It just makes you realize it's just a house,” Mindy said. “This is a new house ... It's somewhere we're going to call home and we'll love, but it's still just a house. What's more important is our relationships that we have with our family and our friends, and we're blessed not to have lost any of those in this in this tornado.”

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