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'Survival Sale' Helps Business And Residents Rebound From Storms

The strongest of last month's tornadoshit North Dallas -- and destroyed every single building at North Haven Gardens, a 5-acre family-owned nursery. The storm obliterated about 65% of the inventory. Everything that's left is part of a special "tornado survivor sale."

The line to pay on Friday was more than an hour long because through Sunday, every fern, flower pot and ficus at North Haven Gardens is for sale, half-off and cash only.

The parking lot was swarmed -- customers loaded hand carts with lilies and lime trees, potting soil and peonies. To many people in line, the plants they're buying are badges of storm survival.

Credit Courtney Collins / KERA News
The LaBarbas, who lost all but two trees in the October tornado, bought 17 trees on Friday. The surviving trees came from North Haven Gardens.

"You go somewhere you want a souvenir, but this is a living souvenir of somebody that's made it though," said Susie Andrews. Andrews, who lives in North Dallas, carried armfuls of pansies and rosemary to the register.

Some other customers loaded pickup trucks with a dozen trees. Liane LaBarba bought 17 new ones after the tornado ripped up almost everything in her yard. "Front and back, almost all the way around they're all gone," she said.

As a matter of fact, LaBarba said, the only two trees left standing in her yard came from North Haven Gardens.

"Sunday afternoon, four hours before the storm, I was here talking to them about what I could plant because I couldn't grow a blade of grass. And now all I have is sun," she said.

North Haven Gardens staffers say they hope to rebuild and re-open within a year.

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.