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Daniel Fluharty

For Daniel Fluharty, the healing came when he could help others.

The pizza delivery driver needed to work through the images from that night in 2011 when he ended up under rubble inside the Pizza Hut on Range Line Road. He needed to work through the pain of knowing that one man’s actions saved him and several others.

And the best way to do that was to go in after other natural disasters and help those suffering.

“A friend and me went to the tornado in Branson and in Oklahoma,” said Fluharty, 32. “And one down in Arkansas a couple of years ago. You’ve been through it, so you think it’s something you can offer them. Let them know, ‘You can get through it.’ It helps.”

Five years after the tornado, his mind still goes back to the Pizza Hut, where five people died. One image fills his mind.

“I always see the wall (cloud),” Fluharty said. “It was massive. The actual funnel.”

Then he thinks of Chris Lucas, a restaurant manager who took charge. It was Lucas who ordered everyone into the walk-in cooler, and it was Lucas who made sure Fluharty got inside before he closed the door.

Lucas grabbed a bungee cord and lashed the door shut. Fluharty had a hold of Lucas. “Then the place exploded.”

Days later, Fluharty’s brother found part of the snapped cord. At last year’s memorial, Fluharty had that piece of cord with him.

“I saw Chris’ mom,” he said. “And I saw she was having a hard time and gave it to her. It’s what I wanted to do the whole time.”

Without Chris Lucas, Fluharty said, he and several other people who were inside Pizza Hut that night wouldn’t be alive.

“My life is not mine anymore, you know what I mean?” Fluharty said. “I’m living for him at this point.”

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