DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- Some students in Deer Park rode out the tornado at San Jacinto Elementary School. Families reunited once it was safe for parents to pick up their kids. That evening, we spoke with a first-grader who came home to one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
You may remember Addison Trusty. People online started calling her Little Miss Sunshine for the way her bright attitude brought light to a scary situation.
She's a little girl with a personality twice her size. It burst through the screen when she first explained what it was like to survive a tornado with her teachers and friends. The interview generated tens of thousands of likes and comments on social media. Trusty said she was surprised by all of the attention. "I was like, how much comments did I get, because that's crazy!"
Laura Trusty is Addison's mother. She said, "She's always had a lot of personality, but I think one thing is that it encouraged people at a time when they needed it. A lot of people were commenting that she was their rainbow. She was the rainbow after the storm. It did make me feel good that she was able to use her energy for a positive reason and to help other people feel a little better during such a bad time."
The Trusty's home was one of just two on their street that wasn't damaged. Many people lost fencing, windows, parts of their roof, or their homes completely. The destruction closed the school district for days, though San Jacinto Elementary School didn't sustain any major damage.
When classes started back up, some of Addison's teachers turned the trauma into a lesson. She said, "I learned about tornados. They come from the sky and they come down and they hit. It starts off big."
Addison is also learning about how a community rebuilds. Some homes in the neighborhood near Luella and Phyllis still have blue tarps and boarded up windows. Dumpsters have moved in next to houses that needed extensive work, but other neighbors have completed reconstruction.
Laura Trusty said, "You've see a lot of repair. A lot of regrowth. I think a lot of people initially came out and helped. There was a ton of volunteers. A ton of people from all over."
There are signs of progress sitting in several front yards. Larry Henson said, "All of us got new roofs." He and his neighbors were also on the tornado's destructive path through Deer Park. "A tree hit literally in their garage and busted it up, but you can't tell that," he said."
Henson estimated the repair work at $30,000. The hard work is over for many. It's ongoing for some. Regardless of how much cleanup has happened, the sentiment surrounding the storm is the same. The community, still in recovery, hopes the next one blows over.