Garland honors, remembers tornado victims and survivors

A street in Garland wiped out by a deadly tornado one year ago is almost back to normal.

An EF 4 tornado touched down in Garland on Dec. 26 and nine people died when it swept cars off the Bush Turnpike in Garland. It also destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses in the city.

Natasha Briggs’ sister, Kimberly Tippett, and her 12-month-old son Kamryn were among the nine who were swept off the Bush Turnpike. Briggs and her husband adopted Tippett’s two surviving children.

“We constantly talk about them to make sure the girls heal,” said Kenneth Briggs, victim’s brother-in-law.

The Briggs’ came to Garland for the first time since the incident to see the city honor the victims. To remember the lives lost in the tornado, the City of Garland unveiled a plaque that will be displayed at John Paul Jones Park.

Garland also planted trees in memory of the victims and the strength of the survivors.

The tornado destroyed 1,100 homes, apartments, and businesses in Garland.

The Barns’ had just gotten home when the tornado hit.

“About 20 minutes later our world turned upside down,” said Michael Barns.

Their daughter watching the news urged them to take cover.

 “When I opened the bathroom door a tree was in our living room and our roof was gone,” Barns said. “30 seconds before that we were sitting in our living room.”

They say they will never forget how the community surrounded them with help, starting seconds after the tornado hit.

“I saw a sea of lights come. Those were our neighbors to cut us out of our house,” Barns said.

After living in hotels and an apartment, they are finally back home.

“There is nothing stronger than your faith to keep you going,” Barns said.

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