More than four months after a tornado ravaged this northeastern Oklahoma town and killed six people, many residents remain displaced.

Resident Sue Sigle is still living with a sister after the storm. Sigle and others from Picher are moving on slowly from the tragedy.

“It’s still hard to believe all this,” she said, looking over the foundation of her home and a basement that’s filled with mildew and water. “I come by every day to see what they’ve done.”

On May 10, a tornado leveled Sigle’s home in Picher while she was visiting her children in Missouri for Mother’s Day weekend. The wreckage from that EF-4 tornado, which flattened about half of this dying mining town, is still only partially cleaned up.

Metal shards are still wrapped around trees in town and some damaged homes are still partially standing.

Picher was a dying town before the tornado hit. Many considered the tornado to be the town’s final blow. But the story of the death of the town has been much more prolonged than expected.

None of the tornado victims are allowed to rebuild in Picher because the town is part of one of the oldest and most severe hazardous waste sites in the country. Zinc and lead mining created a toxic legacy for the town, and the federal government is paying for all willing residents to relocate from the area.

Despite $1.34 million in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the fact the state trust in charge of the relocations expedited payments to tornado victims, some people still find themselves in various states of homelessness and displacement.

Patricia Williams, who was left with an arm in a sling and her back covered in scrapes after the tornado, used FEMA grant money to buy a home in August in nearby Bluejacket.

She still hasn’t moved in, though, because her new home is in disrepair and needs patching up. She’s staying with her sister in Quapaw.

Sigle recently purchased a house near Branson, Mo. Starting a new life will be difficult, she said.

Sigle grew up in Picher and drives by the site of her demolished home on her way to the town’s elementary school, where she has been a teacher for 38 years. Her mother also was a teacher in Picher.

The school is expected to close after this year.

Sigle was able to recover some photos and scrapbooks from the basement of her tornado-hit home. But the rubble reminds her more than anything of what’s starting to look like her former life.

When she visits, she remembers the days when her three children played pool in the basement, and when kids from all around town gathered there to make signs before football games.

“My husband and I, we built this house. It just brings a lot of memories back. He’s passed on,” she said. “It’s just hard to let go.”