Hundreds of families assisted by Network of Community Ministries following Oct. 20 tornado in Richardson

A local man whose home lost power in the tornado gathers supplies from the Network of Community Ministries' pop-up center Oct. 22. (Olivia Lueckemeyer/Community Impact Newspaper)
A local man whose home lost power in the tornado gathers supplies from the Network of Community Ministries' pop-up center Oct. 22. (Olivia Lueckemeyer/Community Impact Newspaper)

A local man whose home lost power in the tornado gathers supplies from the Network of Community Ministries' pop-up center Oct. 22. (Olivia Lueckemeyer/Community Impact Newspaper)

Tornado victim relief efforts led by local nonprofit Network of Community Ministries were the focus of a presentation made by Network CEO Cindy Shafer at a Feb. 4 City Council meeting.

Due to a power outage, Network remained closed the day after the tornado; however, Shafer’s team began charting a plan of action mere hours after the storm wreaked havoc in Richardson in the late hours of Oct. 20. Beginning Oct. 22, Shafer said the center was flooded with individuals and families who had lost power or were displaced by the storm.

“All we wanted to do was love on them the best we could,” she said.

Network provided emergency food, games, books, clothing and money for medications for families impacted by the storm, Shafer said. It also coordinated with Richardson ISD to ensure transportation was available for children whose families were relocated to hotels.

Network’s efforts were bolstered by an outpouring of donations from individuals and organizations, Shafer said. In addition to monetary assistance, over 368 volunteers donated 1,626 hours of time to help families.


“Every need that came to us, we were able to meet,” she said.

All in all, Network assisted 395 adults and 610 children affected by the tornado, Shafer said. The majority of those served, around 58%, were Richardson residents. The remainder came from Plano, Dallas or Garland.

Of the 341 families served, only 27 met the income qualifications typically required to utilize Network’s services, Shafer said. This goes to show how a disaster of this degree can upend a person’s life, she said.

“Most of us are just one disaster, one illness, one accident away from being the people who sit in my lobby,” she said.

Network’s focus has now turned to transitioning people back to permanency, Shafer said. Over 50 tornado-impacted families continue to use Network as a resource for food, counseling, permanent housing or help with finding a job.

The organization is currently accepting donations to help impacted families set up new households. For a list of needed items, click here. To make a monetary contribution, click here.
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By Olivia Lueckemeyer

Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


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