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Texas Tornado Recovery Continues Amid Hopes Of Aid

April 07, 2012

By Patrick M. Walker

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April 07-- Jennifer Brunson sat in the shade on her front lawn Friday afternoon, enjoying the pleasant weather. But the prospect of more storms on Easter Sunday cast a cloud of worry over her.

Her roof was damaged in the tornado outbreak Tuesday.

The rain that followed caused water damage on the second floor, she said. A restoration contractor had spread tarps over the exposed areas and was expected to return today to add reinforcements.

"He said that if it rains, it could cause the ceiling to come down," Brunson said as children played in the yard. "So, yeah, it`s not looking good."

As North Texas residents continued picking up the pieces Friday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, toured a damaged Arlington church and expressed hope for a nonpartisan process to secure federal disaster assistance.

The National Weather Service`s Fort Worth office again increased the number of confirmed tornadoes, adding two to bring the total to 16.

The latest twisters to be added -- one in south Denton and one in northern Kaufman County -- were both rated EF0, the weakest on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

Cornyn said he is counting on the Obama administration to quickly approve the state`s application for federal assistance when it is submitted.

"I hope that was an exception," he said, referring to the administration`s reluctance last year to grant emergency funding for areas devastated by wildfires in April, May and September. "This is not a partisan issue."

Gov. Rick Perry, members of the Texas congressional delegation and others criticized the administration last year when it didn`t immediately declare a major disaster for Texas but did so for Alabama and other states. Federal officials ultimately did issue the declarations.

Cornyn, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley visited St. Barnabas United Methodist Church, where they were shown around by Senior Pastor Will Cotton.

"The pastor told us that they`ll have a sunrise service on Easter but that they`ll probably be without the building for a while," Cornyn told reporters. "We were just remarking that as much devastation as there is, no lives were lost. We`re all grateful for that, but a lot of people`s lives were disrupted.

"We`re here to make sure there is a seamless process starting here with the mayor and the judge and the state level with the governor and then in Washington."

Whitley said he spoke with a White House official soon after the storms and was left with the impression that the Obama administration is ready to help.

"My feeling is that it should be left up to the local officials," he said.

"They are the ones on the ground and know what the needs are and shouldn`t be hamstrung by a bunch of paperwork from the federal and state governments."

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are scheduled to begin assessing property damage in Arlington on Monday, city spokeswoman Rebecca Rodriguez said.

Cornyn, Cluck and Whitley also stopped by a battered neighborhood near the church, meeting with homeowners Jim and Twila Meyer and pitching in for a few minutes of cleanup.

`The hope of Easter`

Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson said Oncor restored power overnight to the last areas in the city that had been without it. A good push in cleanup efforts through the weekend could move the status of operations from emergency mode to recovery, he said.

But the National Weather Service forecast calls for a 20 to 40 percent chance of showers late today through Tuesday, which could mean a new headache for owners of damaged property.

Rodriguez said most people whose roofs were damaged seem to have covered them with a tarp or plywood and moved out furniture and other belongings as needed.

"That has been good to see," she said. "But until permanent repairs are made, those properties are going to be at somewhat of a risk. I`m sure everybody is hoping for a few more days of sunshine."

People with specific questions about how to secure their property may want to contact their insurance adjuster, she said.

At St. Barnabas, Cotton and his staff planned a sunrise Easter service for 7 on the church lawn and another at 10 a.m. in the Martin High School auditorium. An egg hunt will follow.

After the storms, Cotton said, he thought that it might be best to cancel the Easter plans, but his staff wouldn`t hear of it.

"They said: `Are you crazy? We`re going to do more,`" he said. "These neighborhoods have been devastated, and we need to show them that the hope of Easter is here."

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(c)2012 The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Story image: Ashley Quinton walks through the tornado damaged home of her friend Sherry Enochs in hopes of finding personal items that can be salvaged Wednesday, April 4, 2012, in Forney, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

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