East Texans continue to rebuild months after the Lufkin tornado

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – It's been four months since an E-F3 tornado ripped through Lufkin and some storm victims are still rebuilding.

The county and city have worked together to rebuild, but say they're more prepared should destruction strike again.

"At night, sometimes I hear that noise and I get worried it's that tornado," said victim Edna Coutee.  "It sounds like it's going to come back again and I really get nervous about it, but I hope and pray to God that we don't have many more because that was one scary night, one scary night."

Coutee won't forget the night in December when the tornado hit her house. As she continues to rebuild, the county is working on improvements of their own.

"That's one thing people really worry about, whether we're more prepared now than say we were two years ago when we had Hurricane Ike," said Angelina County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Conner.  "Of course, we are constantly training with the city."

Lufkin has been approved to operate a Regional Staging Area to improve the county's response time.

"In the past we've had a little trouble getting food, water, MREs such as that to the area, but it shouldn't be much of a problem now," Conner explained.

The tornado wiped out some Lufkin homes and severely damaged others, but as residents continue to rebuild they said there is good in the midst of the devastation.

"It's a blessing in disguise," said victim Curly Jenkins.

"I feel good about it, it's helping the neighborhood build back up, even though the tornado came through and did some damage," said Coutee.

From Coutee's house you can see workers rebuilding Hackney Primary, a sign that things will soon return to normal, but the tornado was an experience to learn from.

"We never know when it's going to happen again, we never did think it would happen here, all I would say is if you can afford it, please have a little insurance," said Jenkins.

Lufkin said they've collected thousands of cubic yards of debris and they will continue picking up debris on the curb.  All you have to do is call the solid waste department to get a work order.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.