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Neighbors Sad To See Rowlett Water Tower Demolished

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ROWLETT (CBSDFW.COM) - A symbol of survival after the deadly tornado that ripped through Rowlett and Garland more than a year ago will be coming down on Monday. Crews are preparing to tear down one of Rowlett's water towers.

Throughout this community, you can still see the tornado damage. That's why, for many, the tower has become an icon representing one of the few things that has not changed.

Rebuilding efforts are making progress, but it's been 14 months since Ima Allen has been able to live in her own home. She can still remember taking shelter in her bathtub on the December night that the deadly tornado hit. "When we came out, that house was sitting right here. That whole house was here. We had to climb over everything," said Allen.

A lot has changed since then. Many of her old neighbors have moved, but the Martha Lane water tower has been the one reminder of how things used to be. "When I'm coming home, I see it. I know I'm headed in the right direction," said Allen.

That's why he encouraged photographers like Ron McCarty to come by the day before its demolition and capture it for posterity. "Obviously there's new homes going up here. It will look different next year. So, it's important to be able to look back at it from a historical perspective," said McCarty.

No matter how sad she is to see it go, Ima Allen said that she's grateful that the tower has lasted this long, to remind her how resilient her community is. "At one point, I didn't even want to live here anymore. But then I come and I look at the tower, I said, okay, I have memories. So, I'll stay. I'll rebuild," said Allen.

Crews are set to demolish the tower between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Monday. They are first cutting three of the tower's legs on the north side, then connecting a tension wire to apply pressure and lower the structure down. It is a slow process. The water utility system has already absorbed the functions that the structure previously performed, so the tower will not be replaced.

City leaders explained that pieces of the tower will be kept for use in public art installations throughout the community. The Martha Lane water tower was built in 1980 and stands about 160 feet tall.

"Hate to see it go," said Tim Smith. "It's kind of become an icon for the residents here, just for the simple fact that you can look at it and remember the tornado. It's going to be missed."

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