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Neighborhood still rebuilding almost one year after EF-3 tornado tore through Polk County

Warta says she used to hear children playing. Although the neighborhood looks better, she says...
Warta says she used to hear children playing. Although the neighborhood looks better, she says it still feels empty.(KTRE)
Updated: Apr. 12, 2021 at 6:03 AM CDT
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ONALASKA, Texas (KTRE) - A year ago this month, an East Texas county was decimated by a tornado. On April 22, 2020, an EF-3 tornado touched down in Polk County.

Today, families in the Yaupon Cove neighborhood are still rebuilding.

“We had clear skies and then, it got cloudy. Then the debris came and the noise. You do not forget the noise,” Onalaska resident, Becky Warta said.

Last year, the Warta family home sustained damage on the inside and outside from the tornado.

“Since then, the windows have been put in and new. The main beam has been replaced. The entire roof has been done,” Warta said.

It has been almost one year since the EF-3 tornado tore through the Yaupon Cove neighborhood.

“It looked like a war zone because you had trees everywhere. You had metal that was still in some places, up in the trees. Houses that just have been demolished,” Warta explained.

Warta says she used to hear children playing. Although the neighborhood looks better, she says it still feels empty.

“There are so many houses that are completely gone. The trees and the beautiful scenery is gone. It is broken,” Warta added. “You see every broken piece and it reminds you of what happened that day. You can remember the few people that we lost and the families that have been uprooted, because they just cannot afford to build back.”

Warta says most of the help came from local churches.

“When COVID-19 hit, it just shut everything down. You could not get help. It just stopped everything, and it just made it twenty times harder on survivors,” Warta added.

Although her dad still lives here, Becky and her husband have recently moved to Tennessee.

“Our neighborhood is clean, but we have digressed. We have not progressed. The few people that are still here, they are trying,” Warta explained. “They are picking themselves up and moving on. A lot of people have literally moved on because it took a lot out of this community.”

The tornado hit the west coast of Lake Livingston in San Jacinto county and moved into Polk County. The storm caused three deaths, 33 injuries and damaged over 300 homes.

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