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A Year After A Deadly Tornado Ripped Through Granbury, The Rebuilding Continues

A year ago Thursday, the most powerful North Texas tornado in two decades ripped through Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth.  It devastated one neighborhood in particular: Rancho Brazos. Six people were killed and several dozen were injured. A year later, the rebuilding continues.

About 100 homes were damaged or destroyed. The next morning, all Sandy Daughtery had were two walls.  She told KERA: “We’re alive. We came out without a scratch and that’s all that really matters.”

Daughtery lived in a house built by Habitat for Humanity. A majority of Rancho Brazos residents lived in Habitat homes, and that put Carol Davidson in a heavy-duty rebuilding mode. She’s director of Hood County Habitat for Humanity.

KERA's BJ Austin caught up with Davidson a year later.

“We could only tell where our homes had been, many of them, by the driveway," Davidson said. "We had 60 homes in the neighborhood. Fifty-eight of them were occupied by families.”

Davidson says all of them were destroyed or heavily damaged.

“Fifty-three of those 58 families decided to come back, and those homes are rebuilt or repaired and they are back in their homes,” she said.

To an outsider, it might not look like a lot of progress has been made, Davidson says. There's still more work to be done. But she says it’s exciting to see how far the neighborhood has come from the utter destruction of that night. Even the trees were stripped of leaves, twisted and tossed.

“We miss the trees. There used to be a lot of trees, but those will grow back.  And we’ll plant more.”

Davidson says it’s a triumph of hard work and indomitable spirit.

“There was fear coming back just because of having gone through a tornado," she said. "But they are the most brave group of people I’ve ever seen. And I think the fact that we are in such community together helps all of us be able to move forward and put one foot in front of the other and do what we need to do. They love each other. They helped each other. This wasn’t just Habitat. It was the whole community. … It was wonderful.”  

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.