A Look Back …

It’s been a year since that night that changed a lot. And with everything that came after the tornado that struck North Dallas last year, it’s almost hard to believe that it has been a year.

A year since we took shelter in closets and bathrooms. A year since we climbed out that night and navigated damage – or found (to our relief) that our homes were left unscathed by the EF3 funnel of wind and debris that marched across Preston Hollow and surrounding neighborhoods. A year since people hid in the walk-in coolers of restaurants at Preston and Royal as the roof of the establishment was peeled off like the top of a sardine can.

And in any other year, something as remarkable as a tornado would still be at the forefront of our minds. But just as many were finally hitting their strides – back in business, making headway with contractors, having meetings with stakeholders about the designs of schools decimated by the storm – COVID-19 hit, closing down businesses slowing progress, sending kids home from school for many months.

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss what has happened this year. So we set out to talk to a family who made it through the storm – as they move in to their home again a year later. We talked to business owners. We talked to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. We talked to Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa about the night of the storm – and the weeks following. We talk to two principals – Sandi Massey at Thomas Jefferson High and Phillip Potter at Walnut Hill Elementary – about the destruction the tornado brought to their schools, and what it meant for their students and families.

We started our reflection in our October issue of Preston Hollow People, with the beginning of the story of the McCleskey family. Their entire story can be found here, on our website, in a special section devoted to our tornado coverage.

Our goal was not just to remember something big happened before something even bigger happened, but to remind our readers – and our neighbors – of the myriad of ways we banded together during the hardest of times. It is, of course, what spurred us to name you as our Persons of the Year last year.

So take time to look, and come back on Oct. 20, as we share a few more stories. And please, share yours with us as we look back at this remarkable period of our lives.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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