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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

One Crisis Away: Rebuilding A Life, A Year Later

Lara Solt
KERA news special contributor
Nearly a year after the storms, a tornado-damaged house in Rowlett still hasn't been repaired.

The decorations were still up when a dozen tornadoes ripped through North Texas the day after Christmas last year. KERA has been following four families on the financial edge trying to recover from the storms.

We first got to know them last spring, in a series called One Crisis Away: Rebuilding A Life. Now, we check back in with them, a year later.

Some people returned from holiday trips to gutted apartments and gashed houses. Some families rode out the storms in their closets. The Christmas weekend tornadoes changed thousands of lives forever.

A Look Back

Lindsay Diaz will never forget hunkering down with her then-infant son in the bathtub of her Rowlett duplex—then emerging to a home she no longer recognized.

“Everything was broken, windows shattered, everything off the wall," she said.

Diaz had homeowners insurance but not enough of it. She described her situation back in March.

“I’m homeless," she said. "I don’t have a home and I need to figure out what I’m going to do to get it back.”

Diaz has spent the last eleven months sorting through the chaos and living in two different rental houses.

Putting Pain In Perspective

Valencia Alexander manages the senior services program for the City of Dallas and helped with counseling in the wake of the tornadoes. She says the stress of moving, even temporarily, can be crushing.

“I now have to find financial resources to restart my life, she says. "I lost the things that were important to me. Can I really trust moving into another environment? Where do I find a place that’s safe?”

Over the next month, we'll re-visit all four families as they continue to try and rebuild their lives, even a year later.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.