Lufkin making progress in tornado debris clean up

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Thousands of cubic yards of tornado debris has been cleared in Lufkin and the city says they're not done. It's been nearly three weeks since the E-F3 tornado ripped a path through east Lufkin.

The City says it will continue to pick up debris as long as it's left out.

"It will never be the same again," said James Jones.  "We are just going to try to clean it up the best we can."

Jones owns three homes on Lubbock Street.  The tornado flattened one, Jones is about to erase the others.

"There's nothing to do but tear it up," he said.  "You can't put it back together.  The walls are pulled away from the floors."

Before he demolishes the homes, he looks for anything worth keeping.

"We're going to salvage what we can and flatten it all," explained Jones.

While he cleans his property up, in another part of Lufkin Javier Ortega clears out his home.

"Right now we're just trying to get everything out so they can start construction on the roof since our whole roof has to be replaced," said Ortega.

Much of the debris that filled his yard three weeks ago is gone. He knows time will fix things.

"It's a slow process, it's not going to be done just in one day," Ortega said.

For weeks, the City has been cleaning up debris residents have gathered.

"Mostly the side of the road and the curb is clean," said Lufkin Deputy City Manager Keith Wright.  "Everything is picked up that's out there.  We have some areas around Teer and Traylor that we're finishing up with today."

Wright said the City has already picked up 6,000 cubic yards of debris and they only expect to get more as residents continue cleaning up.

"I think you'll see 95 percent of it that's going to be taken care of and repaired in the next few months," said Wright.

Even then, residents said it's impossible to remove all traces of the tornado.

"The marks are going to be in our memories," said Ortega.  "It's not going to be just by view, but I'll always remember there's a tornado that's came through here."

"Things just happen," said Jones.  "This is not heaven.  It was not meant to be heaven."

The City is applying for a grant from a state home program. That could mean up to $500,000 in assistance for homeowners.  The money would be allocated to victims who don't qualify for loan assistance.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.