Community Has Reasons for Thanks in Tornado Recovery Zone Despite Damage

In the tornado recovery zone in Dallas Monday there were reasons to gives thanks during this Thanksgiving holiday week, despite all the damage.

North Haven Gardens reopened in a tent because the garden and patio store building was destroyed in the Oct. 20 tornado.

Owner John Pinkus scrambled over the past month to remove all the debris and restock the store with holiday merchandise. He said he was thankful Monday to be rewarded with a steady stream of customers.

"Fortunately, disaster brings the community together. Unfortunately we need them sometimes to bring us together. It shows what's really important," Pinkus said.

His business, near Central Expressway, is in a neighborhood with many shattered homes. Some are being rebuilt, others are waiting for bulldozers.

"It was amazing the power of nature, what it took and what it left," Pinkus said.

In Downtown Dallas Monday, Mayor Eric Johnson made the first donations to another Salvation Army red kettle drive.

"This is a community that comes together in situations like this," Johnson said. "The tornado recovery is coming along, but lots of folks have obviously been affected."

Major Barbara Rich said the Salvation Army was out right away when the tornado struck.

The annual fundraising drive supports services for homeless people and many other Salvation Army programs.

The Salvation Army received around $2 million from red kettles in North Texas last year. All of the money donated locally stays in North Texas.

The extra call for tornado relief, coupled with fewer Christmas shopping days this year, has the Salvation Army asking for larger donations in the red kettles.

"We're really dependent on that for our year round services. And what we're doing really does take a great deal of money," Rich said.

Workers are still removing debris at the First Mexican Baptist Church of Dallas near Walnut Hill Lane and Marsh Lane.

The church sanctuary is gone, but Deacon Hector Rodriguez said the congregation is still thankful.

"Because of the kindness of a lot of groups, we're able to go through this process of hardship a little easier," he said.

Volunteers helped demolish what was left of the smashed building, and other churches have provided temporary space while his church rebuilds.

"God has been good. Despite this destruction that happened, it's a new door for us. Our church has been around for 101 years and so we're looking forward to another 101 years," Rodriguez said.

The Deacon also said the experience is a lesson in gratitude that will help his congregation better serve other people in need in the future.

"We can reach out to those in a better way, a more kind way, because we've been through it," Rodriguez said.

The First Mexican Baptist Church will hold a Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Royal Haven Baptist Church on Valley View Lane in Farmers Branch.

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