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Bosnian native starting over a third time after tornado destroys home of 21 years in Bowling Green

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Rhonda J. Miller
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No one is ever really prepared to start all over after a tornado shreds your home to rubble.

First, you have to find a place for your family to sleep when hundreds of homes are destroyed. Then there’s the annoying and time-consuming paperwork for home and car insurance, when your important papers are under piles of debris, maybe never to be found. 

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with Jasmin Grahovic, a Bosnian native living in Bowling Green, as he was digging through the rubble of the home he’s owned for 21 years.

Grahovic said he’s going get it all done so he can go back to work as a truck driver because he has to support his family.

He said he’s experienced with disaster. He lived through the war in Bosnia and was in a refugee camp.

Grahovic said this will be the third time in his life that’s starting over. 

Grahovic: I heard something like explosion. Boom! And then something hit me, an object hit my head. I lay down on the floor for a few seconds. Covered my head with hands. When I moved that object from my head, I just saw sky. No more roof. That happened so fast. I can guarantee you, for 30 seconds, we lost everything 

Miller: 30 seconds.

Grahovic: 30 seconds. I guarantee you, 30 seconds. No more than 30 seconds, we lost everything. I invested 21 years of my life in this house. Invested a lot of money in the last three years. I invested almost $70,000 in this house because it’s an older house. I remodeled everything from the ground. I got a brand new roof for the house. I got a lot of updates inside the house. 

Miller: And how long ago did you put on a new roof?

Grahovic: 2019 new roof

Miller: And it's there isn't any. It’s gone.

Grahovic: It cost me $16,000 for the roof. 

Miller: What about your wife and your daughter and son? 

Grahovic: She escaped to go down there in the basement? 

Miller: Your wife? 

Grahovic: Yeah, she's OK. My daughter, she's OK. Everybody’s OK.

Miller:  What are you going to do now, do you think?

Grahovic: Now, I have no idea. We called insurance to try to open the claim. They told me they needed six to seven days to open a claim and they’ll send somebody to do the adjustment.

Miller: Your family is still staying with friends? 

Grahovic: Yeah, we have only one room, you know. We’ll try to find a bigger place for four people.

Miller: You have one room?

Grahovic: Yeah, I can't live in one room 12 by 12 feet. It's too small for four people. The insurance told us no room in the hotels in the town. Everything is booked. All the rooms are booked. No apartments.

Miller: You're not even looking more than one day ahead?

Grahovic: Yeah, that's all I can do.

Miller: How do you feel about that?

Grahovic: Really bad. I understand the situation is not only my family. It's a lot of families. I'm so sorry for everyone. We will something do. 

Miller: You'll do something.

Grahovic: I’ve got the experience with the situation. 

Miller: How come? 

Grahovic: Because I stay in the war, in the really war, for five years.

Miller: In the war?

Grahovic: In the war in my country, in the Bosnia country. I know how we’re dealing with this situation because it's not the first time I lost everything. This is maybe the third time in my life I lost everything and started from zero.

Miller: You lost homes in Bosnia during the war?

Grahovic: Yeah. Millions of people, we stayed in the refugee camps.

Miller: Where were you in the refugee camps?

Grahovic: It was in Croatia, the refugee camp.

Miller: In Croatia?

Grahovic: Yeah. In Croatia because we lived on the state border between Bosnia and Croatia. 

Miller: When were you there? 

Grahovic: A long time ago. That was 1994 and 1995. Long time ago. But I'm now lucky. I’ve got my life.

Miller: Thank you for talking to me. I've been talking with Jasmin Grahovic, standing on the rubble of his house in Bowling Green that was destroyed by the tornado. For WKU public radio I'm Rhonda Miller.

Rhonda Miller joined WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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