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

One Crisis Away: A Year Later, A Single Mom Tries To Move Past Storms And Rebuild A Life

Lara Solt
KERA news special contributor
Jennifer Anderson and her two boys Jayden and Jordan outside their rental home in Garland.

Four families on the financial edge are still trying to recover from last year’s Christmas weekend tornadoes and rebuild their lives.

Jennifer Anderson thinks she’s endured her fair share of tragedy. Last year’s tornado ripped her Garland apartment to pieces and she’d lost her husband to suicide just two years before. Jennifer can’t shake the feeling another crisis could be on the horizon, something she struggles with, even a year later.

The after school scene at the Anderson house is, in a phrase, high-energy. Impromptu soccer games and tree climbing are the norm, though Mom makes sure spelling homework is also on the daily to-do list.

A Tight-Knit Trio

Jennifer, nearly-7-year-old Jayden, and 5-year-old Jordan are a tight-knit trio. They’ve been through a lot; losing Dad to suicide in 2013, relocating to Texas to start over, and then last year, returning home from a holiday trip to a shattered apartment.

Jennifer had renters insurance, although her $10,000 policy didn’t stretch far enough to cover everything she lost. Furniture, mattresses, toys and clothes—what the storm didn’t ruin, the rain over the next few days did.

“So a lot of the stuff had mold," she says. "Most of the pictures and things that were on the wall were gone.”

Trying To Start Over

For three months, Jennifer, Jayden and Jordan lived in an extended stay hotel while she looked for a new place to live. The rental market in the storm-hit area was tight. Competition was fierce because so many other people were looking and, Jennifer says, because she’s a single mom.

“Two income households and things like that, of course they’re going to rent to them before they rent to someone with just one income. So that was like, really, really hard," she says.

Find out where the Anderson family landed and learn how they are still struggling to rebuild their lives here.