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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, Rowlett Mother Trying To Rebuild Life Sees Little Progress

Lara Solt
KERA news special contributor
Lindsay Diaz with son, Arian, stand where their tornado-wrecked house used to.

KERA’s series One Crisis Away: Rebuilding A Life—looks at four families on the financial edge still trying to recover from last year’s Christmas weekend tornadoes.

Lindsay Diaz has run into one struggle after another since the storms. Her underinsured Rowlett duplex was severely damaged—then, just after making the decision to repair her home, a demolition company mistakenly tore down what was left of it. Construction on the rebuild is just now getting started— nearly a year later.

Holiday decorations are up, a cork board in the kitchen is tacked with notes and lists, and toddler toys are lined up in the living room. Everything about this rental house seems like home.

Lindsay Diaz says, it’s not.

“Especially having a young child, you want to have something that’s very stable for them," she says. "And a rental home, it’s not yours.”

Trying To Move Forward

Diaz, her boyfriend and their 1-year-old Arian rode out the December 26th tornado huddled in the bathtub. Hear her describe that night and life since the storm in the video below:

They moved into their second rental home in May after their tornado-damaged duplex was mistakenly demolished by a wrecking company.

“I knew this wasn’t going to be temporary anymore. We looked for a bigger home, that way we could gather all of our items and just store it," she says. "So we found another rental, the rent definitely went up quite a bit, so that’s something that hurt us financially.”

Financially Stressed

Diaz had homeowners insurance, just not enough of it to pay for all the repairs that were needed. After the accidental demolition, she used her insurance money to pay off what was left of her mortgage—she’d owned the place for a little over three years.

This new rental house is costing her $1,400 a month. Her old mortgage payments were less than $700.

“Within the past couple months, the struggle’s been really hard," she says. "I had to dip into some funds that I didn’t need to. And of course all the help we’ve gotten from the tornado, people donating and all that, that’s almost exhausted.”

In August, Diaz filed a lawsuit again Billy L. Nabors Demolition—the wrecking company that razed her duplex by mistake.She took out a loan to go ahead and start rebuilding while she waits on the legal system. The plumbing finally went in a few weeks ago.

Hear more of Lindsay's story and see photos of her with Arian.

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.