Jarrell looking to the future on 25th anniversary of devastating tornado

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 11:49 AM CDT
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JARRELL, Texas (KWTX) - Looking around Jarrell today, you can still see scars and reminders of this disaster 25 years ago. But the people of Jarrell are strong and resilient, and they’ve come a long way in a quarter of a century.

Now, the city is growing and flourishing.

“We expect 10,000 homes in the next five to ten years,” Vanessa Shrauner, city manager, said. “We’re building our third elementary school right.”

But in the back of people’s minds, in private remembrances and quiet parks is the Jarrell of 25 years ago. However, that’s not the Jarrell of the future.

“That’s a memory. That’s part of our history part of who we are, but it’s not who we actually are,” Shrauner said. “We’re honoring that by developing a beautiful city.”

Shrauner said she believes its important to honor the lives of the 27 people who died that day, but she said it’s better to do so through growing and thriving.

WEATHER WEEK XTRA: A Look back at the devastating tornado in Jarrell, Texas

The deadly Jarrell tornado hit May 27, 1997.

“Bad things have happened in all communities. But we’re going to honor ours and we’re going to build on it and we’re going to make the foundation we’re going to make great,” Shrauner said. “I think that that’s the resiliency of the people that have been here in the past 25 years.”

Police chief Kevin Denney said the 1997 tornado changed the way they respond to storms and standardized emergency management.

Two and a half decades later, the community still responds as one when mother nature strikes.

“We’ve just seen recently with a couple of tornadoes in the beginning of the year that touched Jarrell, where the community is still cohesive community,” Denney said. “It comes out when there’s crisis, when there’s issues to be dealt with. And they respond as one and so we’ve seen that even 25 years later.”

Denney, who grew up in the area, said that makes him proud.

“I just think that shows that the community is not only resilient, but they’ve learned from from crisis and tragedy and they’re willing to deal with it moving forward in a positive way,” Denney said. “They want to bring the best and show the best of what this community is, what it has been and what it is going forward into the future.”

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