Glenn Heights Tornado Anniversary Commemorates Recovery

Glenn Heights Police
Mayor Tate addresses residents, city employees and members of the media at a press conference noting the city's response to December 2015 tornadoes.

Glenn Heights Holds Tornado Anniversary Event on December 16

GLENN HEIGHTS—For many, holidays are a time for celebration, however Glenn Heights residents live with a somber reminder of a past tragedy. Less than a year ago, a F3 category tornado destroyed homes and businesses along the northern border of town making Christmas of 2015 less than merry.

A survey report said 122 structures were impacted. Among those, 32 buildings were totally destroyed.

This year December 16, 2016 the city has decided to revisit the event with an anniversary event at Donald T Shields Elementary School.

Glenn Heights Police Led Community After Devastation

While many from surrounding areas lent a hand in the aftermath, it was the Glenn Heights Police Department that was on call after the destruction.

Most noteworthy, is that the police department had been struck by the tornado itself.

Glenn Heights Police Chief Phillip Prasifka
Phillip Prasifka

The F3 tornado hit the Glenn Heights police department building directly. Emergency communications were disrupted and  police vehicles were damaged.

Glenn Heights Police Chief Phillip Prasifka says the staff, through dedication and perseverance, responded in both a professional and compassionate manner, providing service to Glenn Heights’ residents even under those terrible circumstances.

“The entire City staff came together in the face of extreme adversity and performed remarkably,” Prasifka said.

“For many days after the December 26 tornado the most impacted areas were provided police officers for security,” Prasifka explained. “Officers from many other jurisdictions offered their assistance. Deputies from the Dallas Sheriff’s Department were with us 24 hours a day as were other local agencies. It was truly a blessing to have such support from our regional partners.”

The city has worked hand in hand with the county, state and federal partners to address damage from the tornado.

When considering his own thoughts about last year’s tornado and the upcoming anniversary Prasifka said, “As I reflect back I am proud of our city. Glenn Heights suffered major devastation that December 26 evening. Our citizens, our staff and our leadership all came together to take on the task at hand. It was truly a total team effort. A year later I see a stronger city that is moving forward to greatness.”

Mayor Leon Tate
Glenn Heights Mayor Leon Tate and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson survey the initial destruction of the tornadoes that touched down December 26, 2016.

Civic Response

Aretha Ferrell-Benavides
Aretha Ferrell-Benavides

Last year, Glenn Heights City Manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides was out of town for the holidays when the twister struck. Benavides is proud of the response from city staff even as she directed from a distance.

“This month will be one year since the tornado,” she concluded. “It’s amazing how the city came together to rebuild our city. We want to acknowledge the anniversary with the event and celebrate the collaborative effort of our community. Today, Glenn Heights is rebuilding homes and churches. There is still more work, but we are doing all we can to help our residents to recover.”