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1 Year After Tornado, Dallas Neighborhood's Recovery Stretches On

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Kathy Tisko remembers lying in bed with her husband and granddaughter, listening to the storm growing outside.

"When it started to sound like thunder, my husband said, 'This is a tornado'," she recalls.

That night on October 20, 2019, Tisko took shelter in her closet.

"I hugged my granddaughter and my husband hugged me," she said.

Across the street, Sharon Pedevilla heard the sound of two by fours piercing her roof.

"It was 'Bam! Bam! Bam!'," she said. "I was just thinking the house was coming down around us."

When it was all over, their neighborhood lay in ruins.

"We had to crawl our way out from all the treetops," said Tisko. "All of the oak trees in our entire backyard had been stripped in half. The whole tops of the trees."

There were 13 houses on Martha Lane back then.

Some had broken windows and roof damage.

Others were destroyed.

Martha Lane tornado damage
Martha Lane tornado damage in Dallas (CBS 11).

James Wiggins had just moved into his new home that weekend.

The tornado ripped off his roof.

He lay on top of his wife to keep it from taking her, too.

"That's one of those moments in life, when you just say… you say your prayers," he told a CBS 11 the next day.

Neighbors began picking through the debris, cutting away broken branches.

"All you could hear was chainsaws for the next two days," said Pedevilla.

For weeks, she worried she was depressed.

"I would weep remembering… not cry… but just weep," she said.

She held neighbors, consoling them while they cried, too.

Homes, gardens and routines were uprooted; the sense of safety shaken.

"Our way of life changed. Our neighborhood changed," said Pedevilla.

She looked to the future with hope.

"We thought, well, give it a year and it'll all be put back together," she said.

One year later, though, the recovery stretches on.

Two houses are in the process of being rebuilt, after finding new owners.

The Wiggins' house is gone, with only an empty field of grass on the plot of land where it once stood.

Then there are the homes still untouched, as owners battle insurers.

"They're suing , they're suing, the one in the house that just came down is suing," said Pedevilla pointing to neighboring homes.

Tisko is suing, too.

Tarps cover the damage where last year a sixty foot pine tree collapsed on her roof.

"It's been frustrating to not receive the money we need to get it fixed," she said. "Life goes on. It is what it is right now."

There are signs of life returning, though.

Trees that survived are sprouting shoots in a way Kathy's never seen.

"You see where all that little growth is?" she said pointing to branches sprouting thick clusters of leaves. "That's it trying to come back."

Pedevilla's found sanctuary in her garden.

"I think when we started planting… trees and shrubs and roses… I think that's when I started feeling better," she said.

Her street, she knows, will never be the same.

But, she is ready to no longer be reminded of all it lost.

"We just want it to look like a neighborhood again," she said.



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