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North Texas Still Recovering From Christmas Day Tornadoes

Sunday marks six-month anniversary of devastating North Texas tornadoes

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    Six months after deadly tornadoes tore through Garland and Rowlett, much of the destruction has been cleaned up, but there's a lot more work to do. (Published Friday, June 24, 2016)

    Sunday marks the six-month anniversary of the devastating tornadoes that swept through North Texas on the day after Christmas 2015. Many residents hit by the storms are still displaced and remain without a home.

    "This is what I hope will become my new house to replace the one that was destroyed by the tornado," said Rowlett homeowner John Carpenter, who lost his home and two cars in the December tornado.

    "I was thinking to myself, 'Oh, my Lord, this is really happening to us?" And it was over, just that fast," he remembered.

    But what is not happening fast is the rebuilding process.

    "I've come more nights than you know and cried," he said, looking at the rubble that was once his home's foundation.

    Carpenter hoped he would have rebuilt his home by now, but several periods of heavy rains this spring brought construction crews to a halt and left many residents displaced for months.

    "All of the insurance money is running out. Everything we have invested into, this is taking longer and longer and longer and nothing's happened," said Carpenter.

    Ryan and Allison Stubbendeck are a husband and wife team with State Farm Insurance. They were deployed to North Texas from Nebraska two days after the storm hit, and they have been here ever since.

    "What a unique experience to come out and be able to help our policy holders and help the insured through one of the worst things that could possibly happen to you," said Allison Stubbendeck.

    Her husband said he has been most impressed by the resilience of the storm victims in Rowlett and Garland.

    "The people of Rowlett and Garland, it has been incredible, the strength in both communities has been unmatched," said Ryan Stubbendeck.

    John Carpenter says knowing that he's not alone on this journey is what helps him hold onto hope until the rebuilding process is complete.

    "People have been here and were here at the very beginning and are still here, and that's the most wonderful story about this whole thing," said Carpenter.

    To commemorate the anniversary of the December tornadoes, Rowlett city leaders are hosting various events throughout the weekend to honor storm victims.