Tornado Survivor Speaks About Storms Lasting Impact

Last year, Memorial Day was very memorable for folks in Mckenzie County.

On May 26th, 2014, an F-2 Tornado destroyed a man camp south of Watford City.

That storm changed many peoples lives, but perhaps no one was more affected than Aly Dickinson.

Her mobile home was one of the trailers that was torn to pieces and scattered by the wind.

Aly says she will never forget that storm.

"I have nightmares of my little cats going up in that thing and swirly around. I constantly think another one's going to hit, even though they say it's a rarity here."

Fifteen tornados have touched down in McKenzie County in the last 50 years, but the Memorial Day twister was the first one to hit since the oil boom cause a population explosion.

Aly and her husband Derrick are two of the thousands of out-of-state residents who moved to North Dakota for good paying jobs. She was nine months pregnant and says she lost her home and everything in it.

"That was probably one of the hardest times in my life, trying to get back on my feet after that."

After a story on Aly aired on KFYR-TV, and after Logan was born on June 5th, she says support from the community began pouring in.

"We got a lot of donations and a lot of money came in and it helped us to get a house. My husband's company also pitched in to help us."

One year later Aly says she's paying it forward.

"I just gave a couple of bassinets away a couple weeks ago to some families in need, because the oil boom has kind of been dropping and there are a lot of families that are needing help now."

The trailer park Aly used to live in remains vacant. She's returned a couple of times to look for lost jewelry but she's moved on. Now, she says her life is changing again.

"We're expecting a baby October 20th is my due date so Logan's going to have a little brother or sister."

Aly says everything happens for a reason, even nearly being killed by a tornado.

"I got to walk away with my life, my son's life and I got to watch a community reach out to me and I've never felt that before, ever.
Life's Good."

This Memorial Day, Aly will be preparing to celebrate her son's first birthday and says she will be keeping a close eye on the sky.

"As long as the weather's nice that day, I'm not going to have a problem."

Most problems seem small when you've survived a tornado.

McKenzie County Emergency Manager Karolin Rockvoy says as a result of last years Memorial Day tornado, her agency started a tornado disaster relief fund.

People from all over the North Dakota and northeast Montana have contributed over $50,000 to allow many people like Aly Dickinson to begin rebuilding their lives.