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Ozarka celebrates re-opening by honoring those that helped rebuild after tornado

(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)
The Ozarka plant after the April tornado. (Source: KLTV Staff) The Ozarka plant after the April tornado. (Source: KLTV Staff)
The Ozarka plant is now repaired. (Source: KLTV Staff) The Ozarka plant is now repaired. (Source: KLTV Staff)
HAWKINS, TX (KLTV) -

An East Texas water bottling plant, severely damaged by a tornado seven months ago, celebrated their grand re-opening Tuesday.

The Ozarka plant in Hawkins was damaged by an April tornado that spread through several counties.

The factory manager, Jeff Hall, said it's all thanks to dozens of people in the community that stepped in to help when they needed it the most.

“Well you know obviously there's an immediate impact where various different emergency response people showed up to check for what we needed (to) make sure the factory was safe before we started doing clean up and that sort of thing,”  Hall said.

“All the support we got from our local business owners that supplied food and that sort of thing, and just helped show, you know, the pride and the compassion that East Texans have for each other,” he added.  

Read More: Ozarka assisting employees after Wood County tornado 

Many of the employees played a big part in getting the area cleaned up for rebuilding.

Two hundred and fifty people work in the facility, many were there during the tornado. Employees that weren't helping with the clean-up effort were working out of the Pasadena and Dallas bottling facilities. Representatives say all the employees are now back to work at the Hawkins plant.

To show their appreciation for everyone who helped restore the plant, and in the spirit of Giving Tuesday, Ozarka donated $50,000 to the East Texas Food Bank, along with several cases of water.

“This should be able to enable us to serve about 400,000 meals,” Dennis Cullinane, East Texas Food Bank CEO, said.  

“It represents the resilience of a community,” he added.

And while reminders of the storm are still present, everyone is excited for what the future holds.

None of the employees at the plant were injured during the tornado. However, the plant is building a large tornado shelter inside the building to prepare for any future storms.

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