3 years since tornado tore Dallas apart – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Thursday marks three years since severe storms brought down at least nine tornadoes in North Texas, including an EF-3 tornado in the city of Dallas.

Today, the Dallas Independent School District announced the reopening of Thomas Jefferson High School and Walnut Hill Elementary School in January. They were among three schools directly affected by the tornado and are under construction.

There is also an update on a new Dallas Fire-Rescue Station 41 along Royal Lane. The previous station was destroyed in the tornado.

Crews spent Thursday clearing the way for the start of construction of a new fire station. Construction is expected to begin within the next two weeks, according to DFR spokesman Jason Evans.

The E-F3 tornado with winds of up to 140 miles per hour touched down near Dallas Love Field on Sunday evening October 20, 2019.


NBCDFW.com

On the ground for 32 minutes, the tornado carved a 15-mile path of destruction through North Dallas. Hundreds of structures were damaged or destroyed, including schools, major retailers, homes and infrastructure. The storm caused damage estimated at $1.5 billion, making it the costliest tornado in Texas history.

However, the damage fell short of FEMA’s disaster declaration.

Steve Sumter was at his Preston Hollow condo when he received a frantic text from a friend.

“He said: take cover, you are on the way,” he recalls. “As soon as I looked at this, the windows exploded.”

Her beloved Chihuahuas panicked and ran in different directions.

“As soon as I picked it up, one of the cinder blocks fell behind me where it was, so I was literally seconds before I lost a dog,” Sumter said.

Meanwhile, Dallas Fire Rescue Deputy Chief of Emergency Operations Justin Ball rushed to Harry Hines Boulevard from his home after receiving multiple calls for service.

“[I] noticed a colossal amount of damage,” Ball said.

Ball oversaw the rescue efforts that night, along with other DFR leaders.

Ball, along with police and city workers, spent the night searching 900 structures for anyone in need of rescue, fearing a significant death toll.



NBCDFW.com

“I was waiting for a count,” he said. “I was in the command van waiting for people to be found. Even the next day I expected dead people.

Fortunately, no one was killed.

“I believe the response from the fire department, police, other city entities, we had such a quick response that I believe we saved people from themselves. People are coming out of their structures and coming into contact with power lines,” Ball said.

The DFR made improvements following the destructive tornado, including creating a new incident command team for such emergencies, according to Ball.

He added that they are also now equipped with a new command van outfitted to help print maps to better respond to large-scale disasters.

In the years since, some residents and business owners have struggled to rebuild, a task made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic and rising construction costs.

“As HOAs, I think we’ve done really well to rebuild, remodel and get everyone back to their homes,” Sumter said. “It took two years and seven months.”

Sumter’s new condo has a deeper foundation and thicker walls in an effort to better protect it during storms.

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