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Neighbors, Strangers Respond To Help Rebuild After Tornado

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Thunder boomed... lightning flared... rain slashed down. Where were you the day after Christmas, when warning sirens wailed and blasted through the air?

Keith Anglin and his wife were were out with friends.

"We're having dinner and the sirens continue to go off and I turned to my wife and said, 'We need to go home right now. I just don't feel comfortable being away from the kids.' And that was probably the best decision I've ever made in my life."

Anglin, his wife and friends hopped in the car and raced home - to Garland - where Anglin's three children were. As Anglin was speeding toward his home... so was a tornado.

Anglin's friends dropped him and his wife off at their home on Kelso Court.

"It may have been a minute and a half later, the storm hit. And we were in the impact zone, we took a direct hit, and it happened so fast. From the time we walked into the door to the time the storm passed may have been three or four minutes at the most."

"At one point it was hard to breathe, almost as though it had sucked all the oxygen out of the air. We were all in the master bath, all of our dogs were in there with us."

It was suddenly quiet. Anglin crept out of the bathroom.

The roof's gone, there's glass, there's trees, there's debris. It was very difficult to recognize anything. You couldn't get out of the front door because of a tree which blocked us in. Neighbors' vehicles upside down. Two homes in our neighborhood leveled, to the slab. You could smell natural gas. There were a couple of homes to the south of us on fire. You could hear sirens."

Standing in the midst of the wreckage of his home, Anglin gathered his family around him. And he told them how lucky they were.

"The fact that we walked out of this house together, we've won. We're alive, we're together, there's no injuries. And everything that you see here, we can easily replace."

Rebuild 2
Homes in the Kelso Court neighborhood of Garland. Photos taken 3/3/2016 (Cameron Fairchild) - Your Hometown

Anglin immediately started working to repair the most serious damage to his house.

"I'm on the roof trying to tarp the roof that night, an hour after this happens. I look up and there's a whole crew on the roof."

He says people from the area just appeared and started helping, without asking, without instructions. And over the next couple of weeks, as Anglin and his family lived in a hotel, they talked about whether they should stay in Garland, rebuild their home, or move away and start over.

"I remember exactly the day that I decided we were going to stay, and the conversations we had. "

Anglin says spontaneous help from volunteers, and the service, guidance and assistance from the city of Garland, made the decision an easy one.

"We wouldn't have stayed. I would have moved. We would have relocated."

But Anglin and his family are staying. They are rebuilding. They hope to be able to move into their repaired, renovated house this month.

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Homes in the Kelso Court neighborhood of Garland. Photos taken 3/3/2016 (Cameron Fairchild) - Your Hometown

"We need to come together as a community, we need to provide the support, the flexibility, and rebuild together. This isn't about me. It's about our community. It's about Garland

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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