It's been a couple months since Hal cox walked up his old driveway.
"We lived here only a couple of years," said Cox.
What was once his home, at the corner of Nellwood and Crestwood in Hattiesburg, is now nothing but a slab of concrete and a pile of bricks after last year's EF3 tornado ripped through his Woodhaven Lake Estates neighborhood.
"This is the breakfast nook here, said Cox as he pointed out what used to be a room. "The door went in to that."
The loss of his home though is nothing compared to a much greater loss. Cox's wife of just more than 20 years, 72-year-old Simona, died that day.
"This is the bedroom. The head of the bed was against this wall," said Cox.
The two were in that bed when the tornado hit. Waking up to sounds of tree limbs crashing against the house, the walls around them began to fall in on top of them.
"I was eventually able push out of it enough to stand up and I said to Simona, "I'm ok, are you?" She said, "No I'm not," and that's really the last thing I heard from her," said Cox.
In that moment Hal says he knew his life changed.
"All I could do is stand there and shiver and call and hope that somebody would come but it didn't happen," said Cox.
Simona was one of four people who lost their lives when that storm etched a 31-mile path of destruction from Purvis to Petal. A year later, Hal says he doesn't focus on the loss, but rather the memories.
It's tough loosing Simona and just going through this year without her. I miss her every day," said Cox. "She just loved people and it didn't matter. A social status meant nothing to her. She loved people."
As neighboring homes are now being rebuilt and repaired, Hal says he has no plans, right now, of returning to the neighborhood... but that doesn't mean he's walking away from the life he knew, but rather moving forward because of it.
"Either you get better or you get bitter," said Cox.
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