FORT WORTH, Texas (July 31, 2013) – A dozen Texas Motor Speedway employees helped residents of the tornado-ravaged Rancho Brazos community in Granbury with the recovery process Wednesday as part of its month-long “Speeding to Help” community outreach program.
Texas Motor Speedway, in conjunction with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, spent the day helping rebuild one home while demolishing another for future construction that were damaged from the devastating EF-4 tornado that ripped through the community in May.
Alfonso and Amanda Hernandez, along with their three children, were able to walk away unscathed from the deadly tornado, but their modest home was left in ruins as half the roof was blown off, windows shattered and debris strewn around the community. Texas Motor Speedway, led by the skilled laborers of their Operations Department, came in and framed windows, installed insulation and sheetrock, and secured electrical fuse boxes and plumbing.
“It’s a blessing to see people take time out of their personal lives to help others,” Amanda Hernandez said. “It makes our heart happy to see that people help the way that they do. Our house is coming along; it looked like it just needed to be bulldozed but it’s coming along and it’s really exciting.”
The work by the Texas Motor Speedway group was part of United Methodist Committee on Relief’s effort to rebuild the Rancho Brazos community, located 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth. The organization assists residents that received damage to their homes, but did not have home insurance.
Along with the work on the Hernandez’s new home, volunteers cleared debris and personal belongings, and then tore down the home next door in preparation for construction of a new one.
The tornado that ripped through Granbury, one of 16 that touched down in North Texas on the evening of May 16, left the Rancho Brazos community in a pile of rubble. The tornado resulted in six deaths and left a path of destruction nearly 100 yards wide and a mile long in its wake. Slabs of concrete that once served as foundations for homes still sit empty and mangled cars are scattered throughout the community, all serving as a reminder of the tornado’s devastation.
“All of us that volunteered today have witnessed this devastation through media reports, television video and newspaper photos, but it was quite overwhelming walking through that neighborhood and seeing a vivid, sorrowful reminder up close and personal of what occurred that tragic day,” Texas Motor Speedway Vice President of Media Relations Mike Zizzo said. “A heavy heart was replaced by a joyous one when you could see the happiness and excitement of the Hernandez family visiting with our group and seeing their home get a little bit closer to being completed. There are still plenty of recovery and relief efforts remaining for this community, but we are hopeful that our visit helped speed up that process with a few families.”
While the emotional scars the Hernandez family experienced that evening continue to heal, the support of the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Texas Motor Speedway staff offers the family and community hope in moving forward.
“At first it looked like a war zone, it was just a totally different world out here and you can slowly see it coming together and cleaned up,” Amanda Hernandez said. “It still looks empty; it’s real quiet out here where there were a lot of homes and people and traffic and kids and now it’s just real quiet. But it looks peaceful now that it’s starting to get cleaned up.”
The work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief is based solely on volunteers and donation from organizations. With homes still in need of work, the organization continues to search for contributions and, in particular, volunteers. Those wanting to help the Rancho Brazos community rebuild may contact the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s Granbury response team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas Motor Speedway’s visit to Granbury was part of its annual “Speeding to Help” community outreach program that began last week by volunteering its staff to assist Mission Arlington.
The sixth-year program, which makes a community outreach stop each week during a four-week span, will assist with another relief program Tuesday as 15 to 20 Texas Motor Speedway employees will travel to West, a community located 15 miles north of Waco. The group will assist the West Long-Term Recovery Project in their rebuilding efforts from the deadly fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 and injured more than 200.
The program concludes with a visit to the Humane Society of North Texas on Friday, Aug. 16, where volunteers will assist the staff in preparation of animals for adoption.