DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- Communities in Deer Park are still rebuilding after an EF3 tornado ripped through the area on Tuesday. Recovery has been difficult, but some residents said their faith has helped them move forward during this tough time.
For the first time in five days, parishioners at St. Hyacinth Catholic Church were able to gather in person for mass on Sunday morning. The campus experienced tremendous damage, and crews have been working to clean up debris.
"Coming here today is the first day I've seen our little church. I've been a member here for 40 years. I got teary-eyed seeing it," parishioner Cynthia Hendricks, said.
Father Reginald Samuels showed ABC13 the extensive damage his church suffered. He said his staff was here at the church and gathered together in the hall when the tornado struck. Their religious education building collapsed, and the church is missing parts of its roof.
"It has been total chaos for everyone. No power, no electricity, no water. The entire Deer Park community was all affected by this," Samuels said. "Our operations here at the church have come to a complete stop. We don't have phone systems or computer systems here in this parish. All of that went away with the tornado."
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Community members expressed that Sunday's mass served as a place to heal together after immense loss and tragedy.
"Mentally, it's kind of hard seeing the community you were born and raised in kind of being trashed. I believe that today's mass will help solidify the strong bonds that Deer Park has for their community and for each other," parishioner Kateri Meza said.
"We couldn't wait to come to mass at St. Hyacinth. We were so blessed that we were still able to come to mass and that our church is still standing. I'm almost at the edge of tears right now. It just means everything to know that God protected us and watched out for us during this tornado," Louise Michna said.
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Services will remain limited due to the extent of the damage and limited restroom facilities. Father Samuels said they will take it day by day and rejoice in what they still had.
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