“We barely got out of this alive” – DeKalb Co. newlywed couple’s home destroyed in tornado

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IDER, Ala. — The people affected by the tornadoes that hit multiple communities this week can each recount their own story, unique, but also similar. If it weren’t for a quick decision, a DeKalb County couple wouldn’t have an experience to tell, but instead, they have a story of determination and faith.

The path of a tornado when it disrupts lives is clear. Twisted metal hangs like garland in treetops. Fluffy insulation lies like melted cotton candy in fields. Remnants of things that used to exist with a purpose are scattered for yards.

This week a tornado hit Rosalie, in Jackson County.  The storm killed three people there, and then it continued on its path to DeKalb County. It hit near Ider and kept going.  It left people's lives scattered across fields, across roadways, and stuck up in trees; a clear path.  But, some things can beat even that devastating scene.

Shaun and Kiersten Aragaki said 'I do' on April 1, 2016. One is native to DeKalb County, the other isn't.
Either way, the small town of Ider is home.

Friday morning, the couple holds hands and walks in the chilly Alabama weather, picking their way over their first few months together.  "We barely got out of this alive," Shaun Aragaki says, "My brother called. He's like 'ya'll have to get out, because there are tornadoes touching down now'."

They left moments before the tornado ripped apart their home.

The couple bends down over the rubble and picks up things they are surprised to find: a playing card, a Coke can with their names on it, a hair tie. Incredibly, they found their wedding rings in the mud and debris.

The couple doesn't have insurance. A friend set up a gofundme account to help them get back on their feet. For now, they're staying with family.

"There's nothing that can prepare you for how bad something like this can be," Aragaki says, "The Lord's helped us with this. He's helped our attitudes because we can't sit around and really be devastated, and it is devastating, and we did our fair share of crying."

They're moving forward.

There are some things that are stronger than tornadoes. "My biggest thing is that we're here together," Aragaki says.