The tornados in the Dallas area the day after Christmas were absolutely devastating for many families and communities. Lives were lost and homes were destroyed and damaged. Pets were frightened and scattered as their homes were torn apart. Of course, the Red Cross and many others stepped in to help, but the community spirit that responded and continues to respond to those who need help is nothing short of awesome.
Deena Killingsworth, one of our Hopkins PR team members who lives in Rowlett, got a first-hand experience of the storm. While her home was not damaged, the tornado missed Deena’s home with her family huddled in the inside bathroom by one block.
Through Deena, we have learned of the neighbor-helping-neighbor efforts in the Rowlett community:
- The night of the storm people put on gloves and went to the aid of neighbors pulling people from rubble and helping with damage assessment.
- Churches in Rowlett, Rockwall and Garland has sent teams of volunteers for clean-up of homes and with donations of food, clothing, water and other essentials lost. Groups from the Muslim and Jewish faiths also provided support and donations.
- An elementary school polled each student family to find out what was needed and vowed to provide it.
- A local vet opened his office the night of the storm for displaced animals and alerted the community via social media.
- People have made generous donations of clothing, diapers, food, water and gift cards to those in need.
- One restaurant held a fundraiser where 100 percent of the proceeds from orders that day were donated to relief.
- Another restaurant, normally not open on Sunday, went through the broken neighborhoods distributing food the day after the tornado.
And there are continued aid efforts:
- People are offering their homes to neighbors who are now homeless and planning to rebuild.
- People are doing laundry for neighbors who are displaced.
- People are housing and caring for neighbors’ animals until they can get homes repaired or rebuilt.
- People are preparing and delivering meals to families who are living in hotels saving them the expense of eating out.
- The “Rebuild Rowlett” movement has printed t-shirts with the slogan which are being sold for relief efforts.
- DART has donated a storage area where all the donated items that have been spread out in the community have been consolidated for pick up as needed.
“It’s really been amazing,” says Deena describing the people-helping-people efforts. “Literally every segment of the community has come together to provide aid and help with rebuilding.”
That’s the Texas can-do spirit.
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