Federal Emergency Management Agency

Workers Topple Rowlett Water Tower Damaged in Tornado

Workers toppled a Rowlett water tower that was severely damaged during a 2015 tornado outbreak blamed for more than a dozen deaths.

City crews in Rowlett on Monday afternoon brought down the tower in a process that involved heavy equipment, cables and cutting part of the support legs. 

The tower fell onto a field that had been cleared.

The tower, located on Martha Lane, was severely damaged back on Dec. 26, 2015. It was drained shortly after. It was built in 1980 and stood 16 stories tall.

Rowlett authorities say the city's water utility system months ago took over functions of the tower, which won't be replaced. Six other water towers dot the city of Rowlett.

Workers have toppled a Dallas-area water tower that was severely damaged during a 2015 tornado outbreak blamed for more than a dozen deaths.

The structure been the subject of months-long examinations and tests by local and federal inspectors and was deemed to be damaged beyond repair, according to city manager Brian Funderburk.

"We've known for a long time it was going to have to come down," Funderburk said. "It's tough, it really is." 

FEMA and city insurance paid for the demolition costs.

"Over the past year, the Martha Lane water tower became an icon throughout our community, an unofficial symbol of Rowlett's resilience and of the bonding that occurred as a result of the tornado," said Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel.

The symbol may be gone, but what it means to the community will never leave.

"I say the people are the symbol of strength. The people are. You walk around this neighborhood, you see the smiling faces. That’s the symbol of strength right there," said homeowner Xavier Sullivan.

Pieces of the structure, including the word Rowlett, will be used in public art installations around the city.

Officials expect demolition and site restoration to take about three weeks.

Tornadoes slammed parts of Dallas and Collin counties on Dec. 26, 2015, killing 13 people.

According to Funderburk, out of the 1,300 homes and businesses damaged or destroyed in the tornado, 1,200 have been rebuilt. 

Rowlett is located 15 miles northeast of Dallas.

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