Tupelo tornado victims face uncertain without income

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TUPELO, MS (KTVI) - There has been loss of life, homes, property and now a loss of income for tornado victims in Mississippi.

Jessica Bonkickgen sat in a Tupelo Waffle House Wednesday morning and wondered how she would make ends meet.  Her only source of income came from a job her husband held a restaurant.  That restaurant was wiped out by Monday’s tornado.

“I’m a mother of three, it’s going to be hard,” she said.  Bonkickgen tried to stay positive.  “You can replace money, but you can’t replace loved one.”

The American Red Cross set up an overnight shelter and provided meals for twister victims.  The agency promised to stay as long as its services were needed.  Tuesday night more than 100 tornado victims slept on cots set up at the shelter.

“Some of the people have nothing left,” said Patty Tucker, Northeast Mississippi American Red Cross chapter manager.   “They’re just so appreciative.”

Finding a place to stay was difficult because several hotels were also damaged.  The general manager of the Super Inn & Suites in Tupelo was thankful no one inside the hotel was injured when the tornado hit.  The hotel had significant damage but there was enough warning for guest and employees to gather in the safest part of the hotel.

“We’re just so happy everyone is okay,” said Christopher DeCamp.

Power crews worked to restore electricity to a business section of Tupelo on Wednesday.   Some of the neighborhoods still had too much debris for power trucks to enter.

“Power could be out for more than a week,” said one line worker.  He said his crew worked 16 hours Tuesday and were ready to work all day Wednesday.

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