A line of storms moved through the Dallas area in October of 2019. The first in that series of tornadoes was an EF3, which tore an almost 16-mile-long path in just over 30 minutes through the northern side of Dallas County. The National Weather Service said it had maximum estimated winds of 140 mph. It was followed by a number of less powerful tornadoes across the area.
As the line of storms drew near, the Rapid Response team from Minuteman Disaster Response (MDR) hit the road to track the storms and to be in place immediately as damage was confirmed. As they continued to monitor the storms across east Texas and Arkansas, a second MDR team was deployed. This trained team of volunteers worked into the night clearing debris from roads in north Dallas to allow first responders access to damaged areas. Later that night, at the request of the Dallas Police Department, the MDR Incident Command Post trailer was deployed to assist in coordinating response efforts.
The clearing of roads was the priority of the Minuteman volunteer team and served as a vital first phase towards the restoration of the region by allowing access for utility companies to restore power to the damaged areas. Those efforts continued for the first week with the focus on North Dallas and continuing east as far as Farmersville in Collin County, Texas.
Additional volunteers were activated for the second week of deployment bringing the total number of MDR volunteers involved in the area to more than 60. During the second week the focus shifted to assisting homeowners and businesses as they worked to recover from the effects of the storm to their personal property. One couple shared their miraculous experience of being huddled under a bunk bed … praying … with their 4 children as the storm tore part of their roof off and damaged much of their home without as much as leaving a scratch on a member of the family.
Steve Wise was one of those MDR volunteers, serving on his 9th deployment in the two years since he joined MDR. Steve said, “It’s a huge blessing to go and assist but it is also a huge heartbreak as you see people’s lives in turmoil. The Minuteman team comes from all walks of life but we all have the same heart, a heart to help people.”