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Workers Topple Damaged Rowlett Water Tower

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ROWLETT, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Workers have toppled the City of Rowlett water tower that was severely damaged during a 2015 tornado outbreak blamed for more than a dozen deaths.

City crews in Rowlett on Monday brought down the tower in a process that involved heavy equipment, cables and cutting part of the support legs. The tower fell onto a field that had been cleared.

Rowlett authorities say the city's water utility system months ago took over functions of the tower, which won't be replaced. Officials expect demolition and site restoration to take about three weeks.

"It brings it all back," City Manager Brian Funderburk said, referring to the tornado.  "Those first few weeks after the tornado happened were some of the darkest days in Rowlett."

A resident who was sorry to see the tower go told CBS11, "I had a friend call me and said, 'we watched it from our window..did you cry? I'm crying. That's the way our neighborhood feels.

Rowlett water tower comes down
Rowlett water tower comes down (Chopper11)

Tornadoes slammed parts of Dallas and Collin counties on Dec. 26, 2015. The storms damaged or destroyed more than 400 buildings in Rowlett, located 15 miles northeast of Dallas.

Thirteen lives were lost in the storm area.

Rowlett councilmember Robbert van Bloemendaal said that it just isn't safe to leave the tower in place, vulnerable to another severe weather event.

"It's become an icon for the city and for the people around here, but unfortunately it has to come down. I can see the reasons for that," said van Bloemendaal.

The city plans to preserve pieces of the water tower for a public art display and may build a sculpture in memory of the people impacted by the tornado.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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