Habitat for Humanity begins rebuilding tornado-ravaged home near Granbury

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
How to help For information on Granbury’s long-term recovery, including where to donate, go to www.granburytornadorecovery.org

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

As a tornado warning was issued on the evening of May 15, Olga Hernandez’s first instinct was to head to her new Habitat for Humanity home.

She was just three days from moving into the Rancho Brazos neighborhood and had spent many nights checking on her home’s progress. Compared with the mobile home she was renting, she thought it might be safer to ride out the storm in her newly constructed home.

“But I saw the dark clouds swirling and decided to stay at my trailer,” Hernandez said. “Something told me it wasn’t good idea to leave.”

That premonition proved correct as Hernandez’s new home was destroyed by the deadly storm that killed six people and injured dozens more. When Hernandez, 35, was allowed into the neighborhood arrived several days later, she found nothing but a concrete slab.

“It was wiped clean,” said Hernandez, a mother of four. “If we had been here, we might have been killed or seriously hurt.”

On Wednesday, Hernandez got to start over again on her home.

All 60 Habitat homes in Rancho Brazos were damaged or destroyed when the EF4 tornado struck Rancho Brazos that evening, with 12 being declared total losses. Four others could also still be deemed total losses by their insurance providers.

In the storm-damaged neighborhood where most of the trees have been stripped bare and many lots are now empty, Hernandez helped Habitat volunteers raise the first frame on her home.

Habitat volunteers hope to have the four-bedroom home completed by August or September. The home is being constructed as a “blitz build” where as many as 24 volunteers work for four days a week.

Habitat for Humanity of Hood County, along with the help of Trinity Habitat for Humanity in Fort Worth, will start construction on July 10 on two other Habitat homes in Rancho Brazos.

“The amount of support we’ve had is just amazing,” said Carol Davidson of Habitat for Humanity’s Hood County chapter. “Normally, we don’t build in the summer but we’ve got groups from all over the country that want to come here and help us and we’re trying to find qualified people for these homes.”

In Hernandez’s case, she was turned down the first time she applied for a Habitat home. But Hernandez was encouraged to try again.

She applied a second time year ago and was accepted. Habitat homeowners must pay off the home with a 20-year, interest-free loan. The loans also include homeowner’s insurance, which has proved vital for other Habitat homeowners in the Rancho Brazos neighborhood.

Hernandez who grew up in California and moved to Granbury six years ago, said it feels like home now. Now the manager of a tire store in Cresson, Hernandez said she already feels like a part of Rancho Brazos.

“The support here has been amazing,” Hernandez said as she wiped away a tear. “It has been awesome. I just don’t know how to put it into words.”

Her home will be rebuilt with one slight change from the one that was blown away.

Originally, she chose a beige and blue exterior. This time, she’ll make it beige and brown.

“I really liked those colors and they were my first choice but I didn’t feel like it was right to do that again,” she said. “I wanted to change it a little. I don’t know if it’s for luck but I wanted to make it a little different.”

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698 Twitter: @fwhanna

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?