Recovery efforts continue in Laguna Heights six months after deadly tornado

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Six months have passed since a tornado ripped through Laguna Heights and heavily damaging the small town.

"That was a very difficult day, because it was dark, we didn't expect the tornado," Laguna Heights resident Lizbeth Sanchez said.

Sanchez remembers the day clearly. Her home was not damaged but her neighbors across the street was. Sanchez took them in.

"Thank God that they were able to go inside, and the tornado didn't take my home. So, we were able to take shelter here," Sanchez said.

Sanchez's home had minimal damage, but 21 other homes in the town were destroyed in 60 seconds.

"It was one minute from touchdown to when it went into the bay, but that was a very long one minute for those families," Cameron County Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Rolando Casas said.

Casas was one of the many first responders who showed up to help people who were affected. He remembers the look on the faces of those who were rescued.

The tornado left many people homeless. Cameron County, local organizations and other community members stepped in to help people get back on their feet.

"It was a good site to see, individuals helping each other," Casas said.

It took around two weeks to clean up the damage with 108 tons of debris taken to the landfill.

A county disaster declaration was issued for Laguna Heights. That helped people qualify for low interest loans through the Small Business Administration, but many were not able to meet the requirements.

The work to rebuild continues. Some lots remain empty, meanwhile construction has begun on others and homes are now up.

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