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Tornado Victims In Granbury Wait To See If Federal Help Is On The Way

BJ Austin
Dozens of volunteers are clearing debris piece by piece. It's a job that will take some time. One hundred homes were damaged. Many of them were reduced to piles of sticks.

Hood County officials hope to know by the end of the week if the tornado-devastated Rancho Brazos neighborhood will qualify for federal assistance through FEMA.  Right now, the front line of relief is a large cadre of community volunteers. 

Volunteers are cutting up downed tree limbs and picking up debris piece by piece in modest Rancho Brazos neighborhood. Hood County Judge Darrell Cockerham says to qualify for FEMA help the damage in Rancho Brazos and Cleburne must total $34 million.  

“We’re working on them to get all those numbers together to see if we can come up with that $34 million dollars," Cockerham said.  "The main thing is we’re trying to take care of the people who were displaced."

More than half of the 100 homes damaged or destroyed were Habitat for Humanity Homes.  Carol Davidson, director of Hood County Habitat, says the Habitat residents have options because they were insured. 

“You know they have their choices whether they want us to build or someone else," Davidson said. "But right now, it’s getting them taken care of. Get them back in vehicles, get them back in housing. They need to get to work. They want to get life back to normal as they can.”

Davidson says that’s going to take a lot of assistance. Other residents of the modest neighborhood may not have a safety net like insurance.

Sandy Daugherty picked up cleaning supplies and some food at the Red Cross/Mission Granbury relief center.  She returned home over the weekend to see a couple of walls standing, but nothing else.  

“It was hard.  But, we’re alive," Daugherty said, her voice choked with emotion. "We came out without a scratch and that’s what really matters.”

She lived in her Habitat for Humanity home for 13 years, recently with her daughter and two year old grandson.  She says it looks like the Habitat volunteers are going to be her lifeline.

“I think from what I’ve heard so far, everything’s going to be okay," Daugherty said with a slight smile. "It might just take time.”

Daugherty says she’s trying to find a place to live in the meantime, and says that’s where FEMA assistance might really help.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.