Onalaska pastor looks back one year after a deadly tornado hit Polk Co.

Onalaska pastor looks back one year after a deadly tornado hit Polk Co.
Wood and metal debris on side of road after tornado strikes Onalaska. (Source: KLTV)

ONALASKA, Texas (KTRE) - One year ago this week a deadly EF-3 tornado swept through Polk county. Three people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed. Branches, power lines, and home debris lined neighborhood streets of the small community of Onalaska.

Onalaska First Assembly was a church that transformed their hall into a distribution center for people to pick up what they need. One of the pastors with the church, Chris Veazey, told us while many people have rebuilt and returned to normal, many areas still need work.

He said he’ll never forget the night back in 2020 the tornado hit and the immediate calls they got looking for help.

According to Veazey, “Our phones automatically started ringing from people who’d been hit really really hard...there were just so many neighborhoods in our community that were just completely devastated. Still you can see the massive remnants of this tornado that came through and tore our town apart.”

Onalaska First Assembly got an 18 wheeler full of goods and products to give out to people impacted by the tornado. They also housed a disaster relief group as they helped clean up the neighborhoods. Veazey said they’ll be happy to step up in times of chaos whenever they can.

“We tragically did lose a few people in that tornado and so we don’t forget them, but we move forward,” he said. “There are still homes that aren’t built back. I just saw one the other day that still has a tarp over it.”

The city’s mayor says about 20% of the homes weren’t insured, so there’s a chance some people might have never returned.

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