Rebuilding Together; community comes to deputies rescue following tornadoes

Rebuilding Together; community comes to deputies rescue following tornadoes
Volunteers working on deputy's home in April 2018. (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Deputy's home following tornado on April 29, 2017. (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Deputy's home following tornado on April 29, 2017. (Source: KLTV News Staff)

FRUITVALE, TX (KLTV) - Following the deadly Van Zandt County tornadoes on April 29 2017, the long term recovery fund has assisted with at least half of the about 200 homes that were significantly damaged or were a total loss.

Meanwhile, some families have been able to rebuild without financial help, but rather community support.

Damon and Melanie Williams, two Van Zandt County deputies, were called out to help others on April 29. While they were gone their home and two cars were destroyed.

In return for their service, their community has helped them rebuild from the bottom up.

"We we're blessed to be alive," says Damon. "This house was built once it can be built again."

With materials donated by the City of Flower Mound, and the help of volunteers from all over East Texas, not one but two homes are in the final stages of being rebuilt on the Williams' property.

The other home belongs to Melanie's mother Lesa Lawrence, who was home with some of her family throughout the life-threatening storm.

"We heard it all, we heard it taking the roof off the house, glass breaking," says Lawrence. "It was just horrible sounding."

Lawrence says through prayer and the blessings of others her family has overcome the devastation.

"We got it all cleaned up and then we said okay now we're going to concentrate on re-building," says Lawrence.

In February, after months of fundraising, the first group of volunteers came to work on the property and each Saturday after they returned.

Now, with the exterior of both homes being near completion Lawrence says the generosity of the community has put her faith back in humanity. "It's good to know there are still good people out there," she say.

Carl Waddell, who was the Mayor of Fruitvale when the tornadoes hit, has been getting volunteers together over the past year, spending Saturday's working on the Williams' home, as well as others throughout the area. He says because of the tornadoes the community has been pulled together.

"I've had people come volunteer and they we're willing to go above and beyond," says Waddell. "I think that it's just helped people to dig deeper roots to the community and to each other."

Damon says in the wake of tragedy he's learned a positive lesson.

"When somebody is down lend them a helping hand," says Damon. "It will come back to you in ways that you wouldn't expect it, when you're not expecting it."

The exterior of both homes is just about complete, Lawrence says a specialist will be coming during the week to begin finishing the homes interior. In the meantime, the family has been living in a trailer on the property that was also donated to them by a neighbor.


Volunteers work on officers’ new house, after it was destroyed by tornado

Officers go to work during tornado, return to find home destroyed

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