In the aftermath of the Oct. 20 tornadoes that caused havoc in Midlothian and other parts of Ellis County, the community is coming together to help those who suffered property losses rebuild.
Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported from the storms, which struck a little after 9 p.m.
But the EF-1 tornado that hit neighborhoods in north and east Midlothian with 100-mph winds caused significant damage to several buildings and numerous downed trees. Fundraising efforts are underway to assist those impacted.
The United Way of West Ellis County is managing monetary donations at the request of Ellis County Emergency Management & Long-Term Disaster Recovery Committee. The UWWEC said 100 percent of all donations will go to support local tornado relief efforts in the county.
Donations can be made to the fund through the UWWEC website at www.uwwec.org.
Kasey Cheshier, UWWEC executive director, said his organization has been directing offers of donation of goods to other organizations such as Manna House and the American Red Cross.
“We’ve had a lot of groups that we’ve been in contact with that are looking to donate items,” Cheshier said. “As far as monetary contributions, there has been a few hundred here and there. The most phone calls I’ve gotten is from people wanting to help rebuild Lighthouse Church or donate goods. If they call us to donate goods, we’ll redirect them to the appropriate place.”
The UWWEC says on its website that it is providing “a holistic approach to disaster recovery, starting with the immediate needs of the impacted communities and committing to being there for the long-term, always focused on providing help to the right people at the right time.”
The hardest-hit structure in Midlothian was Lighthouse Church on North 9th Street, near U.S. Highway 67. The church was heavily damaged just hours after church members had hosted a dinner in the now-demolished fellowship hall. The roof was ripped off the main auditorium, windows were shattered and debris was strewn everywhere.
But the church also operates a not-for-profit coffee house, Lighthouse Coffee, which was spared the twister’s ferocity. Lighthouse Coffee’s proceeds normally benefit local causes, but the church will be able to use funds raised from sales to help rebuild the structure.
Lead pastor Dan Cooper told KDFW television that the church building was insured, but that $20,000 will need to be raised to cover the deductible.
Lighthouse will be holding a work day at the site of the damage on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. to clean up the church grounds. In the meantime, worship services will be held at Kimmel Park at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Homes in the Mockingbird Lane area of Midlothian also had some structural damage.
Others are also stepping up to assist those whose lives were disrupted by the Oct. 20 storms.
Dr. Denise Bruckerhoff, whose medical practice was formerly located in Midlothian, is collecting donations of non-perishable goods at her practice for those impacted by the tornadoes.
Bruckerhoff, whose clinic is now just up the road in Mansfield, said she felt she had to do something to support the community she used to treat. She feels very connected to the residents of Midlothian.
“We’re from a small town in Kansas with 2,200 people, and we grew up in a community where when disaster strikes, everyone pulls together and helps one another,” Bruckerhoff said. “I still have a lot of patients following me from Midlothian that are coming to see me at my clinic and I realize that a lot of these patients are on fixed incomes or their finances are pretty tight. Anything that we can do to support the Midlothian community, we are certainly willing to do.”
Bruckerhoff’s clinic is located in the Brown Professional Building at 1788 FM 157 North, Suite 103, right off the exit on U.S. 287 in Mansfield. Clinic hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the office closed during the noon hour for lunch. A donation box is set up in the lobby for drop-offs.
“Something like this coming up right before the holidays, and a lot of (patients) in their donut hole for their Medicare coverage, it’s just a really tight time of year anyway,” Bruckerhoff said. “And then you throw in a natural disaster. I think a lot of times we take it for granted that we have a roof over our head.”