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The December 26 tornados left behind scenes of destruction across Collin County.
Voices shake as business owners survey the street corner that held their livelihoods.
Highway 78 at County Road 549 was once home to a daycare, a feed store, and Hooie’s…the town’s social hub and only restaurant. Residents could always count on its owner and chef Hooie Hanna, who did much more than serve home cooked meals.
In seconds the December tornado turned Copeville to rubble, and also claimed two lives.
Hooie’s partner Vickie Hanna says Jerry Funderburk died so his wife Tina might live.
The town also lost Jerry Brazeal, known as “Cowboy” Jerry, a loveable alcoholic who found a second chance helping at Hooie’s.
Copeville’s population was 300 but dwindles every day.
People uproot to find better chances, and those who stay lean on each other to scrape by.
Most people don’t qualify for individual help because Collin County says the damage didn’t meet that threshold.
Hooie says compared to other cities they’ve gotten almost nothing.
Everyone loves Hooie for her golden heart, and in them she sees reasons to rebuild.
One little girl named McKenzie is super special to her, and out of all the damage to the restaurant, Hooie found a butterfly drawing McKenzie had done for her. It was completely undamaged – and hasn’t left her wallet since.
Copeville’s collective faith is shaky…but they face the damage with hope and memories, and still a little bit of laughter.
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