Weatherford Democrat

May 24, 2013

Forgotten storm victims

With focus on Granbury and Oklahoma, southern Parker County residents left largely to fend for themselves


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE



CRESSON – Needed help has been slow to arrive for one of the Parker County neighborhoods hardest hit by the tornado-producing storm last week.

Displaced residents and others with major damage to their homes in the Ponderosa Hills neighborhood near Cresson are struggling to pick up the pieces after more than a dozen houses were damaged during the storm.

Most of the affected residents in the low-income neighborhood that the Democrat spoke with said they don’t have insurance and haven’t found much outside help.

One displaced family is living in a hotel and has been unsuccessful in getting a loan to buy another home to place on the property.

Another family is staying in a neighbor’s house and trying find help to haul away the remnants of what’s left of the mobile home they purchased three months ago.

Multiple other families are living in homes with gaping holes in the roofs, covered by tarps and pieces of plastic.

Alexia Hartley and Aislynn Penny left their home on Adams Circle minutes before their mobile home, purchased three months earlier, was blown off the base and destroyed by the high winds.

Penny says they were told that their trailer, now sitting in what used to be their backyard with gaping holes in the walls and no roof, needed to be removed from the property within 30 days.

However, they can’t afford the dumpsters it will take to remove the pieces of the house strewn across the yard.  

Penny said she called the county and was told there was no local funding to help residents remove what had been left behind by the storm.

They, along with a 4-year-old boy, are living in a neighbor’s house and trying to find a new home with little more than the clothes they were able to salvage from the water-logged home.

Around the corner, on Windmill Court, Delores Campbell said she was telling her daughter-in-law to put her shoes on the evening of May 15 when the roof was ripped off.

With three quarters of the roof gone, holes in the walls and broken rafters, Campbell said a fire official told her she could no longer live in the mobile home.

The two are now staying in a Weatherford hotel and searching for a trailer or home to place on the lot.

“Even renting (a hotel room) by the week, it’s still expensive,” Campbell said. “It’s the cheapest we could find in Weatherford.”

Campbell said she’s been unable to get any immediate assistance from the agencies she has contacted.

Campbell and Hartley said that several people, including a group from a Granbury area church, had been to the neighborhood and helped move some of the debris to the curb for trash pickup.

This week a Cresson-area church stepped up to help and hopes to be able to address some of the larger needs.

Bear Creek Community Church has several members who went to the neighborhood Monday after hearing about the need from a Cresson VFD firefighter at church Sunday night.

“They weren’t getting any kind of help,” church member Audra Wallace said. “It’s definitely a time to set up for action.... It was overwhelming to see because it’s an extremely poor neighborhood.”

With much of the post-storm media coverage and recover efforts focused in Hood County, “it was kind of forgotten about,” Wallace said.

They helped one family move furniture and other items out of the elements Monday and several members plan to return to work in the neighborhood Saturday.

Some of the biggest needs for the neighborhood are dumpsters, manpower and heavy machinery to help tear down and haul away the homes that have been destroyed, Wallace said.

Wallace said it could take about six to eight dumpsters just to remove Hartley and Penny’s house and dumpsters are expensive.

Fence and roof repair are also issues.

The volunteers could use donations of shingles, as well, Wallace said.



How to help

Those interested in donating time, money or needed items can contact Bear Creek Community Church at info@bearcreek.cc or can contact Wallace directly at publicslave1@gmail.com or (817) 913-8952.

A fund has also been set up with Chase Bank under the name Farah Alexia Hartley to help with the cost of dumpsters and getting the family back on their feet.