Rowlett: One Year After The EF-4 Tornado

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ROWLETT (CBSDFW.COM) – Like so many streets, the EF-4 tornado hit Harbor Drive in Rowlett very hard one year ago.

Now, walk down this street, and you’ll find anything from vacant lots, to foundations, to houses under various stages of construction, and those recently re-built.

CBS 11 first met Lisa and Bill Palmer one year ago.

When the twister tore through their street and neighborhood, they were all having dinner at a nearby restaurant.

The tornado ripped the roof off their house that allowed the rain to damage what the winds did not.

They lived in a condo in nearby Rockwall while they re-built their house.

They moved back in late August.

Lisa Palmer says while some of their neighbors moved out for good, they never considered it.

“We raised our family here. We’ve been here for 18 years now,” said Lisa Palmer. “Our dog’s buried in the backyard. This is our home. We’re staying.”

Some residents didn’t live on this street last year, but recently moved into newly built homes here.

In all, the tornado damaged or destroyed 1,296 homes in Rowlett.

Most of them, nearly 1,170, are re-built or under construction.

Eleven of them though haven’t been worked on at all.

In neighboring Garland, the twister hit 1100 homes.

The city says 527 of them suffered serious damage, and of those, 406 have been restored and re-occupied.

There are 55 vacant lots now where homes once stood.

The EF-4 tornado that began in Sunnyvale and ended up in Garland and Rowlett was the most powerful of 12 confirmed twisters in North and Central Texas on December 26, 2015.

The twisters killed 13 people.

Nine of them lost their lives when their vehicles were blown off a highway overpass at I-30 and the Bush Turnpike.

Back on Harbor Drive, the tornado still brings back vivid memories for Scott Bourke who says, “A lot of people post about it on Facebook. The fact of the matter is, that doesn’t define us. So, the come-backs are always greater than the set-backs.”

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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