Madisonville residents reflect on one-year mark of devastating tornado

KBTX News 3 at Six Weekday EXTENDED(Recurring)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 5:50 PM CDT
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MADISONVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - One year ago a tornado tore through the city of Madisonville.

The storm left dozens of homes and businesses damaged. Along with Madison County, other tornados were recorded in east Brazos County and Snook. Fortunately, no one was injured and there was minimal damage.

Kiara Zinn is a Madisonville resident. Looking back one year ago, she told KBTX the future of her hair styling career was uncertain due to the damage of the storm.

“At first it was all a panic because it was like, what am I going to do for a job? We’re in that line of work where we don’t really have a backup,” said Zinn. “I had just graduated when I started my job at Red’s Barber Shop and I didn’t know anything else. The front of it was gone. The roof was gone. I think the only thing left was the bathroom which was just a little small corner piece. Basically the slab, that’s the only thing left.”

Red’s Barber Shop was one of the many businesses in Madisonville who faced difficulties from the tornado and had to shut down.

“There was nothing we could do after we decided that it wasn’t going to be worth reopening back up again. But looking forward, I mean it all just went by so fast. I can’t believe a year ago we were freaking out,” said Zinn. “That was my first natural disaster. Luckily, we’re in a pretty good part of Texas where we don’t get hit by tornados a lot. But, this time of year everyone is more anxious. This happened one year ago, this could easily happen again.”

The Son-shine Outreach Center, right next door at the time of the tornado, was also left in shambles.

Lisa Wamsley, Coordinator for the Son-Shine Outreach Center, said she remembers receiving the call that changed her nonprofit word-for-word.

“When you hear on the phone that your building is destroyed you think okay, we’ll see how bad,” said Wamsley. “But, when we saw it at 7:30 that next morning. It was devastating. As a nonprofit, even though we’ve been here since 87′, you still struggle to get the word out when you need help. But we’re under a roof again today partly because of how many people helped us in a time of severe need.”

After a year of constant rebuilding, the Son-Shine Outreach Center opened their newest location to continue their mission of serving the people of Madisonville and afar.

“We were only down for a week. Within a week we had the pantry open and two weeks the store was open and doing all the things we’ve always done,” said Wamsley. “Thank God, the way it all came together. Over the coarse of the year we’ve been through a lot, but standing here in this building, a year later. Who would’ve guessed it?”

Zinn currently works at the Southern Gypsy Salon & Barbershop where she too, thanks all community members for helping after a life-changing disaster.

“It was really a small town coming together for everyone,” said Zinn. “Even now, we have loyal customers who stop by week after week and support our new place.”