LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Less than a year after it was leveled by a tornado, the Lufkin VFW Center has reopened.
On December 23, 2009 an EF-3 tornado ripped through parts of Lufkin, destroying nearly everything in its path. The Lufkin VFW Center was wiped completely off the map, leaving nothing salvageable. All that remained were a pile of bricks, broken glass, and lumber scattered like confetti.
Their doors have re-opened to veterans, giving them a place to call "home."
Alfred Navarro is the commander of the Lufkin VFW. "It feels good and all the members feel good," he said. "All the people that have come to see it from the inside have commented [that] they are excited about it."
Members said the building has several new features, including water sprinklers and smoke detectors.
The last major addition to the rebuilding project will be the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial wall. VFW members said it will be identical to the one destroyed in the storm. Veterans' names will be laser-etched into the wall, helping to preserve it.
Navarro said the wall is just one part of their overall plan to update the new building. "[We] think about the members, the past members, and all the work they did to the other building," he said. "It was up to us to rebuild it. It was up to us to make it better." He said (the tornado) gives the VFW a chance to start over in a new building.
The new VFW opened almost two weeks ago. Senior Vice Commander Carl Zylstra said he hopes more East Texans will support it. "I hope our bingo players all come out. It's been kind of slim but we're hoping for better days."
Funds from bingo and dancing nights, Zylstra says help the VFW play a role in giving back to the community.
It may be a slow start, but members say it is good to be home again.
VFW members are inviting the public to join them for an open house at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 2020th.
The Lufkin High School Band will also perform as part of a special ceremony.