One year ago, a tornado ripped through a populated section of Abilene causing major damage to more than 300 homes and businesses and impacting more than 147 families. Fortunately, there was no loss of life and in the aftermath the community came together to help their neighbors recover.
BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (EMD) was there from the beginning to help as homes were restored, windows replaced, roofs repaired and a community was healed.
The Abilene community recognized its recovery from the tornado last October during National Night Out with an event at the new Abilene Police Station and Municipal Court building. A group from BCFS EMD attended the celebration which included recognition from the Mayor and the Police Chief.
“We always stand ready to support fellow Texans, especially in locations where we have an established presence,” Dakota Duncan, executive director of EMD, told the crowd.
This week as the city of Abilene marks the one-year anniversary of the tornado. United Way of Abilene sponsored a vehicle parade through the storm-damaged area of town on May 18. It was billed as a “Honk Your Horn” parade to allow people to rejoice and give thanks from the safety of their cars as the community now weathers a new storm called COVID-19.
Mary Cooskey, who directs 2-1-1 Texas which coordinates the community’s disaster response and recovery operations, talked to the local newspaper about the lessons learned from the recovery efforts.
“We learned that we are doing a lot of the right stuff to make sure that we are a resilient community,” she said. “At the core of it all we connect people and organizations with the needs, to people and organizations who can address the needs.
“We … were most blessed by BCFS HHS Emergency Management accepting the request for aid to coordinate recovery operations, which included assisting families with the creation of recovery plans,” she told the Abilene Reporter News.