By Merrick Eagleton
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It has been a year of devastation and hope for the Knox family of Carney, but they received the best Christmas present in the form of a new home just days before Christmas.
The Knox family lost their home and business in the EF4 tornado that ripped through Carney on May 19. Jeremy and Jessica Knox and their four sons waited the storm out at Jeremy’s parents’ house nearby.
“Running up the hill from his parents to see the devastation was hard,” Jessica said.
The Knox’s decided to apply for Habitat for Humanity after they were approached by Bo Blakey, executive director for Habitat for Humanity in Stillwater. It was several months before they heard back, but the Knox family qualified for a new home.
“We didn’t know what else to do at the time,” Jeremy said. “They were very anxious to help us.”
Habitat for Humanity completed a blitz build on the Knox’s new home in just four weeks. For the Knox’s, the most important detail of their new home was a storm shelter. Their previous home didn’t have a safe place to go during bad weather. The tornado also destroyed their property and left the land bare.
“What sold me was not the house, but the landscaping and the shelter,” Jessica said. “(The tornado) took all the trees and now it’s beautiful again, and we’re going to plant more trees.”
It was a family effort to rebuild their home, as much as it was for the community and Habitat for Humanity. Each member of the Knox family took part in building their new house. They helped with the foundation, plumbing, wiring, painting and other jobs.
“We all stepped in and worked as much as we could,” Jeremy said.
The Knox’s began moving in immediately after the Habitat for Humanity dedication ceremony. Jeremy said it’ll be special for his sons to be in their new home before Christmas Day.
“It’s just a great feeling to complete a year,” Jessica said. “We were away for seven months, even though we were across the street, but we’re going to finish up the year back here.”
At the dedication ceremony, the Knox’s were presented with a new mailbox, a welcome mat, groceries to fill their kitchen cabinets and several gift cards for homegoods. Ann Felton, CEO of Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity, also gave a Bible to the family.
“It’s our way of showing that the Christian ministry begins at home,” Felton said.