After the tornado, neighbors helped one another in a way that no insurance company or billionaire could.
Acts of kindness conquered the devastation. Early in the morning on the day after the storm, one man wielded a power saw and cut down branches so people could drive the street. Others housed those who had lost their homes. Central Market rolled out a mobile kitchen, and Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church provided meals to Oncor workers who worked at night and in the rain. U-Haul offered free storage for three months, and WorkSuites welcomed those who needed WiFi and a place to work. We were lucky that no one died. We took care of one another. Here’s a look at the toll:
- The nine tornadoes resulted in about $2 billion in insured losses, according to the Insurance Council of Texas. This was the costliest weather event in North Texas’ history, according to Camille Garcia, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Council of Texas.
- About 150,000 residents suffered damages.
- The tornado was on the ground for about 35 minutes.
- In the 12-mile path of the tornado, 905 structures were impacted, some completely destroyed while others sustained minor damage.
- The estimated debris total was between 250,000 and 300,000 cubic yards, according to City Council’s Jennifer Staubach Gates.
- There were 105 commercial buildings destroyed and another 354 damaged, according to the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce. The NDCC building was one of them.
- The City will have approximately $60 million in uninsured loss, according to Gates. The bulk of this is in City infrastructure — signals, street signage, roadways, personnel overtime, contract crews and emergency procurement.
- Three schools — Thomas Jefferson High School, Cary Middle School and Walnut Hill Elementary — were destroyed. TJ students were moved 9 miles across town into what was once the Edison Middle School campus. Walnut Hill took over the vacant Tom Field Elementary School. Students and staff from Cary were split between Benjamin Franklin and Francisco Medrano middle schools.
- There are 15,811 street signs in the area impacted by the tornado, according to Gates. Of those, approximately 7,000 were damaged.
Photography by Danny Fulgencio.
You can see directly inside Sara Miranda’s home on 7827 Midbury Drive because windows and walls are missing. Miranda salvaged her belongings while construction workers did their best to begin clearing debris. She estimates that it will take 12 months to rebuild. In the midst of the devastation, the mailman made his way through the fallen trees and trash to deliver an Amazon package. She had ordered treats for her German Shepherd. It was a much-needed sign of normalcy. She’s spending nights at her neighbor’s house until she figures out next steps.
Here’s what neighbors did to help:
- The Gene and Jerry Jones Foundation and NFL Foundation donated $1 million to Thomas Jefferson High School for an athletics complex.
- Mark Cuban donated $100,000 to the Dallas Education Foundation and $1 million to Dallas Independent School District to help schools affected by the tornado.
- The Allstate Foundation awarded a $40,000 grant to DISD to support the affected schools.
- The Wells Fargo Foundation donated $50,000 to DISD.
- Central Market donated $50,000 to DISD.
- Half Price Books sent more than 2,500 books.
- Richland College offered tuition-free continuing eduation classes.
Photos of North Haven Gardens. The iconic neighborhood store sold any remaining stock they could to help them rebuild. (Photography by Danny Fulgencio).
Here’s how to help:
- Phillip Potter, principal of Walnut Hill Elementary announced this fundraising opportunity: gofundme.com/f/help-walnut-hill-elementary-after-the-tornado.
- The Communities Foundation of Texas established the Dallas Tornado Recovery & Relief Fund. Donations can be made at portal.cftexas.org/2019-october-dallas-tornadoes.
- The Mass Care Task Force Fund is a collaboration between the American Red Cross North Texas Region, the Salvation Army DFW Metroplex Command, the North Texas Food Bank and VolunteerNow. The collaborative effort was established in 2006 to maximize the disaster-related services provided by the four nonprofit agencies. You can donate at: portal.cftexas.org/mass-care-task-force-donation.
- DISD is accepting gift cards, preferably in $25–$30 increments. Mail the gift card to 9400 N. Central Expressway, Box 21, Dallas, TX 75231. More info: dallasisd.org/tornadorelief.
Walnut Hill Elementary School’s history started around 1914 with a school election, according to the school’s website. Three one-room schools — Royal Lane School, Smith Hall School, and the school located at the intersection of roads now known as Valley View and Marsh Lane — combined to become Walnut Hill. The first building had four rooms upstairs and the auditorium downstairs. There was only one teacher, Mrs. Weeks. The 20-25 students from families in the area walked to school or rode horseback each day. Four students who completed the eighth grade in 1916 became the first graduating class at Walnut Hill.
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