One year after an EF4 tornado ripped through the city of Rowlett, there are still signs of the damage the storm left behind.
Residents who were directly affected continue to face physical and emotional wounds.
The powerful Dec. 26, 2015 twister hit the southern end of the city of Garland before passing though Rowlett, where the damage spanned four miles long and was nearly one mile wide.
Heavy debris and mobile homes flung into the Martha Water Tower. It was damaged, resulting in a mandatory evacuation of the homes around the tower.
“My husband and I were watching the updates on the news,” said Theresa Birdsell, who was at home when the tornado passed through her neighborhood.
“I said to him, ‘look, its coming right toward us.’ I couldn’t believe it. I’ve lived here for 40 years and nothing like this has ever happened,” she said.
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The couple rushed into their laundry room to take cover with their pets.
“We have two doors in the laundry room and the wind was pushing both of them and they were about to cave in." Birdsell said. "After the tornado went through, we checked and had some damage to our kitchen, but when we looked outside it looked like a bomb went off. Homes were flattened, and debris was everywhere,” she said.
The repairs on their home were extensive but the family did not need to rebuild entirely. The repairs took eight months. However, there are homes on her street, and throughout the neighborhood, that are still under construction.
Some of the homes have tarps on the roofs and boards on the windows. Others are still missing the brick siding, and for several lots only the concrete slab remains.
“I was a little concerned about coming back after eight months," Birdsell said. "I didn’t know if it would be depressing, but it was good. We would never go anywhere else."
"This is our home. We got through the storm; we’re strong,” she said.