Couple sues Rowlett for bulldozing tornado-damaged home and possessions

A North Texas couple is suing the City of Rowlett after they say the city didn't let them collect their valuables before their tornado-damaged home was bulldozed.

Most of what Ricky Peterson and his wife Lakeisha owned, a tornado picked up and dumped in the back yard of their rented Rowlett home.

“We anticipated coming out and going through these belongings,” Ricky said.

According to the lawsuit, all residents on Shipman Street were able to go back into the neighborhood and retrieve their belongings a few days after the tornado hit Rowlett -- except for the Petersons.

“It was frustrating to see everyone be able to do it and we had to stand in the street and watch the dozer finish us off,” Ricky said.

The Peterson's said they watched as city workers used a bulldozer to clear a path right through the back alley, which is up against their backyard, and wiped out their valuables in the process.

Neighbor Mike Cantrell says he saw it happen.

“He didn't have enough time to get his things,” Cantrell said. “They came the next day and bulldozed this alley.”

Peterson's daughter snapped a photo of the aftermath. The Peterson's didn't have renter's insurance and filed a claim with the city's insurance provider, but their claim was denied.

“Oh heartbreaking cause we had photos and pictures, a lot of things my grandmother gave me things that cannot be replaced,” Lakeisha said.

FOX4 spoke to the Rowlett city attorney by phone, who said he's aware of the lawsuit.

“It's unfortunate that we're being sued in a lawsuit. As I indicated earlier, the city is not an insurer of people's possessions. That's what insurance is for,” said city attorney David Berman.

Berman said the case will be handled by attorneys with the city insurance provider. They will determine if they want to settle or defend the case in court.