Despite losing home, Kokomo woman still grateful

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We have all experienced loss of some kind in our lives.  But we also all know someone who seems to experience a little more than their share.

This is a story about just such a woman and how we can all learn from her example.

"This was the big front porch.  Victorian-style porch," Phyllis Rawlins declared as she approached the home she has lived in for the last eight years. 

Rawlins' Kokomo home was flattened by Sunday's tornado. She showed Eyewitness News a picture from her cell phone of the sprawling 4,600-square-foot two-story home that she says people used to drive by just to see.  Now they are driving by just to see what is left.

"This was the house that love built," she said.

Phyllis lost her husband of 41 years just 15 months ago. The loss of her home is another huge blow.

"They found this digging through the rubble. This was hanging on my tree. Already had my tree up," Rawlins revealed.  It's a Christmas ornament with her late husband's picture on it. 

She is still hoping to find his wedding ring. There is certainly no shortage of people helping her search.

"These are family, friends and church people. They are everywhere and I am a very blessed woman," she said despite her loss.  Phyllis says she has no intention of rebuilding but she also has no intention of leaving.

"I've been here for 21 years in Kokomo and they say where are you from? I say south Kokomo!" she adds with a pronounced southern accent.

"I am a Kentucky girl. I'm a hillbilly. I am a hill William. Do you know what that is? It's a hillbilly who moves to the city!" she continued.  After all, she says this is not her eternal home.  Phyllis says she is just a pilgrim passing through.

"I am a hill William and I am a child of God.  I am very strong in my faith and I will make it," she said.

Phyllis says her granddaughter and about five other members of the church group fled to the basement when the storm hit. She says her granddaughter suffered a broken ankle, and the other youths had cuts and broken bones.