SBTC DR recovery crews assist tornado victims in DFW Metroplex

October 25th, 2019 / By: Jane Rodgers | Managing Editor / comments

GARLAND – Ronald Busby viewed the skeletal remains of an oak tree which once graced his front yard and shaded the white frame home he has owned for 23 years in the Park Grove neighborhood of Garland. The tree, like much of Busby’s neighborhood, was damaged when tornadoes swept through the DFW Metroplex on Sunday, Oct. 20.

“I planted that tree when I moved in,” Busby told the TEXAN as SBTC Disaster Relief crews worked on his property Thursday following the storm. “[The tree] was perfect. When the sun came from over there, it blocked it. It had squirrels. Maybe I’ll plant another.”

Later he added, “I’m alive and everything is fine.”

Busby said he was sitting in his living room chair when the tornado hit.

“I didn’t even have a chance to get outof the chair, and it came,” he said. “I thought, well, here goes.”

Admitting he was a “little worried” as the tornado struck, Busby recalled hearing a brief warning siren, sensing the wind pick up and feeling the house shake for a few minutes. Then it was over, leaving split and downed trees, and roof and exterior damage.

Busby, a follower of Christ, said he had assisted victims in Rowlett and Rockwall following the 2015 tornadoes.

Now it was his turn to be helped.

Busby heard about SBTC DR when DR assessors knocked on his door to offer help.

“This means a whole lot,” he said, expressing appreciation over the chug of a small generator. Power had not yet been restored to the neighborhood, although utility crews labored nearby.

Modest frame homes like Busby’s, many built in the 1950s, dot the once tidy Park Grove neighborhood in Garland, a city that ranks 12thin population in Texas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey.

Busby’s area, south of Forest Lane and east of Jupiter Road, was among the hardest hit.

Within two days of the storm, SBTC DR chainsaw, recovery, shower and laundry, feeding, command and administrative volunteers established operations at Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida on Gus Thomasson Road, and crews began assessing homes.

Recovery work began Wednesday, Oct. 23, as volunteers manning the chainsaw unit from Boyd Baptist Church in Bonham, under the direction of Monte Furrh, began sawing off limbs of downed trees and taking down trees threatening homes.

Thursday morning, in Busby’s back yard, Talana Foley of Van Alstyne watched as her husband, Mike, cut a notch in a large oak too damaged to survive. As the chainsaw crew grasped guide ropes secured to the tree and moved to a safe distance, Mike, clad in Kevlar chaps for safety, made careful cuts in the other side of the large trunk till it gave way, pulled down by the crew. The ground shook as the tree toppled.

Chainsaw crew members then set to work cutting up the downed tree as other volunteers gathered logs, limbs and branches for removal to the curb.

It was a lot of firewood.

It was also Talana Foley’s first deployment, although she had previously trained as a DR volunteer. With two young sons, a farm with cattle and a construction business in Van Alstyne, Foley had not had the opportunity to serve on a DR team.

But as this deployment was local, Foley said she knew she had to come and “join in,” commuting from her home.

“This is our third job today,” assessor Barbara Dunn of Levelland said, over the grinding roar of chainsaws.

Volunteer Fred Regalado of Melissa was also on his first DR deployment.

A professional cook about to retire for the second time, Regalado has already undergone SBTC DR feeding training and hopes to help staff quick response kitchens or larger feeding units.

“I’ll be in the trailer, cooking for first responders [one day],” Regalado said, adding that he had accompanied the Bonham chainsaw team to Garland, planning to “take notes.” Instead he busily worked gathering debris and manning guide ropes.

“I’ll be back tomorrow,” Regalado said.

Heavy late afternoon rains brought Thursday’s recovery work to a stop, but crews planned to return to the field Friday or as soon as rains ceased. Assessors continued talking to homeowners and securing work orders.

SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice confirmed Furrh’s chainsaw crew will continue through the weekend and a new team and second recovery unit from the Dogwood Trails Baptist Area will arrive Friday or Saturday, depending upon the weather. Another chainsaw team from Oklahoma Baptist DR is en route. Crews will remain housed at Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida.

“We are excited about working with Nueva Vida. Their members were already in the field ministering when we arrived,” Stice said.

Individuals needing help may call the following number to request assistance: 903.714.9167 or go by the SBTC DR trailers at Nueva Vida, 2626 Gus Thomasson Road, Dallas.