Holton tornado victim, Ted Tolbert, dies 11 months after storm - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Holton community grieves recent loss of March tornado victim

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Holton, IN Holton, IN
Scene after March 2nd storms in Holton Scene after March 2nd storms in Holton
Holton, IN (FOX19) -

As families in Northwest Georgia deal with the aftermath of Wednesday's deadly tornado, one Tri-State community is grieving their own loss.

The small town of Holton, Indiana is preparing to say their final goodbyes to Ted Tolbert. Tolbert passed away from injuries he sustained during the March 2012 tornado that ripped through the town.

"I think when you lose people in your community it really hits home," Cynthia Melton told FOX19.

Melton grew up in the small town in Indiana and now she can often be found sitting at her desk in the town hall building as she works with a long-term recovery team.

"It's getting my family back into their homes and getting my town back to where it should be," Melton said of her work.

Melton quit retirement last year to join the staff of the recovery effort.

"I felt like I needed to step up for the people I love here," she said. "This is my family."

The team is using grant money and the help of volunteers to rebuild Holton. Melton says so far eight homes have been rebuilt.

"These people come in from all over. Iowa to Maryland to the South, it's just been amazing," she said of the volunteers.

Piece by piece they have been putting the town back together. Melton is the keeper of the lost Holton's lost and found; pieces of the past sent in by folks far and wide.

"They found it out in a field about two miles away," Melton said holding a birthday car from Ted Tolbert to his wife.

"He fought hard, he fought for a long time," Town Marshal Robert Curl said. "It's definitely hard, especially when you know the person."

"It was also a blessing to some of us to realize he is not suffering anymore," Melton said.

Curl was out driving with the siren on the afternoon the tornado hit.

"I don't want to see another one… not through here," he said.

And the people of Holton would not wish that kind of devastation on anyone, anywhere.

"You know what they have to go through; you know what they've got in front of them," Melton said of the Georgia storm victims.

Melton knows firsthand what takes moment to destroy takes much longer to rebuild.

"It took 36 second to go through Holton and Dabney," Melton said.

She hopes to have the homes rebuilt by late summer or early fall.

"We're a strong bunch here so we'll make it," Melton told FOX19.

Ted Tolbert's visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at Stratton-Karstetter Funeral Home in Versailles. The funeral will be Friday at 11 a.m.

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