Destruction to Construction: Remembering the April 13, 2019 tornado

Destruction to Construction: Remembering the April 13, 2019 tornado

ALTO, Texas (KTRE) - Two years ago today, a destructive tornado touched down at the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site near Alto. That city too received damage. A life was lost and critical injuries changed lives forever when the Caddo Museum came crashing down on the people inside.

When something that bad happens you must not forget. Survivors won’t, but most refuse to let memories block their love for the sacred ground at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site.

“A tornado did not drive me away,” Anthony Souther, site manager with the Texas Historical Commission, wants people to know.

Souther prefers focusing on renewal.

“I’m not one of those people that like to look back and dwell on things that have happened. The fact that we do have so many different activities, new trails, new museum, the prairie restoration [is my preference].”

“The blue stem and indian grass, they’re all coming back,” points out Alan Shadow. He’s a prairie consultant for Caddo.

Shadow is the manager of the East Texas Plant Material Center in Nacogdoches County. He grew 3 acres of switch grass for a Caddo grass house. The tornado blew it away with people inside. Now he’s growing switch grass for a second house. The first harvest is expected this fall.

Meanwhile, Shadow oversees the growth of native grasses that blew in the wind when Caddo people were here.

“What we hope to teach the public with these sites is how these systems work. These bunch grasses we see growing in here provide valuable wildlife habitat for quail and other songbirds.”>

Another 30 acres of prairie and wildflower restorations are under development, with a bit of discussion along the way.

“Alan and I, we go toe to toe on the lovely edible medicinal weeks and what’s welcomed in our prairie and what’s not,” said with a grin Rachel Galan, assistant site manager.

Assistant site manager Rachel Galan forages native plants. She also hunts out grants to keep the Caddo Mounds operational.

“And that is always with the Caddo people at the forefront and working with us on projects and directing what they think is important see out here. And care of the space. This land is one of the things that is most important to them.”

As dirt work for a new museum and visitors center continues, the native buckeye puts on a show along a new trail. Rebirth illustrates, ‘no tornado will drive Caddo away.’

Construction of a new grass house could begin this fall thanks to efforts by Friends of Caddo Mounds. On Thursday, the group is announcing in a Zoom call a capital improvement plan for an education center. Use this link if you would like to attend.

Join the group’s Facebook Page here:

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