John and Virginia Hooks

It was just like any other March night on Norman Lane in Crockett, Texas. The rocking chairs on the front porches rocked with the wind, while the dogs barked, and the tree limbs crackled. Retired Army veteran John Hooks and his wife Virginia had just settled in for their evening routine.

Virginia points to the recliner in the living room where she was sitting. As her voice shakes as she explains how the EF-2 tornado devastated their ‘Home’ place- forever changing their lives.

“I was sitting there in the recliner when it came through the front door,” Virginia said. “As the front door blew open, I got up and tried to make it to the bedroom where John was sleeping. The last thing I remember was being thrown to the ground.”

The tornado came through the front door and exited out a back window which was completely blown off the house. The laminate flooring was piled against the back wall, along with furniture and belongings. The strength of the wind was unimaginable.

As she cries, she looks around at the puddles of blood on the floor from the gash on her head. After being released from the hospital with staples, this was Virginia’s first look back at the home place that had been in the Hooks family for generations. John’s family had homesteaded the land years ago and it was a place for all the family to come back to.

“Our place was the B and B for the family,” said Virginia with a laugh. John told of how all the cousins were always welcome at the home place. With a tear in his eye, he says he’s not sure what’s next. He doesn’t know if they will rebuild on the same place or move elsewhere.

“We built the house 14 years ago as our retirement home,” he said. After retiring from the Army and traveling the United States this was home. As family and friends arrived to help with the cleanup, John, and Virginia both started crying.

“This is our first trip back home after the tornado hit and as we drove down Norman Lane we saw hope,” they said. “We saw the Red Cross truck and knew that help was here.”  

As John hugged our team with tears in his eyes, he told us how his faith in humanity is restored. “In this crazy world, you guys are always there no matter what happens,” he said. “Thank you for always being there for those in need.”

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Story by Brittney Rochell