Surviving the Storm: Life After East Texas Tornadoes

Nearly a week after a deadly tornado outbreak, many people in Van Zandt County feel like they are still against in the ropes after being sucker punched by Mother Nature.

When it comes to a tornado, time can be a fickle friend.

“Memories,” Midge Anderson whispered, as she picked up food at a Red Cross Relief Center in Canton. “It’s all gone.”

Anderson was taking her time, looking for exactly what her 75-year-old mother and 74-year-old father needed from the Red Cross.

“Dad’s a retired fireman. Mom’s a retired nurse,” she said. “They are used to helping people after the disaster. Not used to being the victim.”

The volunteers were quick to slow down to listen and love.

“It’s just scary. Forty years in one spot,” Anderson started.

She paused in her story and a mindful volunteer picked up where words failed her, saying, “and then everything is gone all of a sudden.”

Anderson couldn’t stop too long. Her mother was waiting outside in the East Texas summer heat.

“We never thought it would happen to us,” Kathryn Strickland said from the passenger’s seat of her daughter’s car. “It just happened so fast.”

Strickland was surrounded by friends who were volunteering at the Red Cross Center. They wanted to take time to lend an ear and a hug.

“We’ve been fortunate up until now,” she said.

Her husband, Jimmy Strickland, was at home, or what’s left of it. He’s trying to clean up what’s left.

“We thought we were going to be here from now on, until we went out to Eubanks Funeral Home,” he said, sitting on a water-damaged stairway in his home that no longer has a roof.

He said he will miss the destroyed pictures the most. Those are the memories you rely on when time slows down and almost stops, and all this loss hurts even more.

“Not so much for me, but for my wife,” he paused to take it in. “[She] is very sentimental and that hurts.”

The former Dallas firefighter has seen quite a bit in his life. Even through the forming tears in his eyes, he knows in his heart this will all pass – even with a fickle friend like time.

“We’ll be positive. We’ll be positive about it,” he said as his eyes welled. “Everything is going to be good. Everything is going to work out good.”

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