Elgin tornado: Elderly Texas man pulls himself out of rubble and awaits state help to rebuild

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ELGIN, Texas (NEXSTAR) – “This is my house, it’s gone,” Leonard Wilson said in disbelief. “Let’s go.”

Wilson, nearly 70 years old and living with a disability, really can’t believe he’s alive.

“Once he [the tornado] hit, I was in the hallway and it blew out the bedroom window, and that’s when it knocked me down the hallway,” Wilson said. “My bedroom door flew away… and covered me before the ceiling collapsed. I was just praying.

His home has belonged to his family for generations, originally his mother’s in the 1960s. It now stands frail, surrounded by rubble, crumbling photo albums and uprooted trees.

Wilson said he had no insurance.

“I can’t afford to do it myself, I’m moved right now,” he said. “The American Red Cross came yesterday to give me a place to spend a few nights.”

Governor Greg Abbot visited Elgin on Wednesday, hosting another briefing on how the state is helping people after the tornado outbreak.

“There are all these volunteer organizations coming together and they can rebuild houses in days,” Abbott said. “And we’re going to tap into those volunteer organizations, bring them here to Elgin and help rebuild homes here, just like they did along the coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Most of the help currently comes from local authorities in every part of the state and other voluntary organizations, according to Abbott. And he says the state is waiting to see if the total damage cost will be high enough for FEMA to step in, offering federal dollars.

“One thing we need from people all over the Bastrop County area all over Elgin is to provide information about the damage you and your property have suffered,” Abbott said.

Abbott is asking Texas neighbors to report the damage to the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Nexstar asked if the state would tap into the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund. At the end of last year, it was over $11 billion.

“The truth is, there’s no need for the legislature to pump money into any of our budgets to be able to do this,” said Nim Kidd, chief of Texas’s emergency management division. “One of the reasons I think they don’t is because volunteers and faith-based organizations are so quick to respond and are able to get out there and help those in need. . »

While mourning all that has been lost, Wilson knows that rebuilding will take time.

“I was born and raised here,” Wilson said.

Abbott said his declaration of emergency for 16 counties also freed up more resources and funds to help clean up things like debris and other messes left behind after the storm.


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