Deer Park, Pasadena join together to open a recovery center as residents navigate tornado aftermath

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Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media
Pasadena and Deer Park officials say they will open the Pasadena Convention Center for residents to get donations like clothes.

Pasadena and Deer Park officials joined together to open a Disaster Assistance and Recovery Center on Friday to help families impacted by Tuesday’s devastating tornado. Residents can go to the Pasadena Convention Center located at 7902 Fairmont Parkway to get information on recovery assistance as they take the first steps toward rebuilding their lives.

The center will be open on Friday (1 p.m. – 5 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.), and Sunday (1 p.m. – 6 p.m.). More dates and times will be added as the need for assistance continues.

“[This] is a gathering of governmental agencies, local businesses, industry partners, nonprofit agencies, faith based organizations, churches, as well as Pasadena Independent School District, all of our city employees, and hundreds of wonderful volunteers,” said Rex Lindberg, the Community Relations Director with City of Pasadena. “It’s kind of a one stop shop, it’s a hub for getting information and support to help people who have been affected to get their life back to a sense of normalcy.”

Officials wanted to make clear that the center is a place for residents to pick up donations like clothes and money, and it’s not a place for vendors to set up for business. They also want residents to be aware of possible scams and to not give any businesses money that say they take cash.

Tuesday’s tornado left severe damages to homes and businesses, and people without electricity for days. During the press conference, officials did give updates to the aftermath of the tornado.

The City of Pasadena had 253 structures damaged, 26 completely destroyed and 122 homes still livable. The animal shelter in Pasadena was damaged and over 200 dogs were transferred safely to a new location, but the estimated cost to repair the shelter is going to take over $1 million.

“This is for those residents here in Deer Park, Pasadena that the tornado actually touched,” said Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner. “And we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we get the information that they need – so they can get back to living in their houses as fast as possible.”

Mayor Wagner said he’s never seen a tornado impact Pasadena or Deer Park ever, but city crews have been working non-stop since the tornado hit to clean up both cities.

The City of Deer Park was impacted severely by the tornado. The city is receiving help from other local public work crews from surrounding cities like Mount Belvieu, La Porte, Friendswood and more to help clean up the debris. Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton said the city is on track with getting most of the debris cleared.

In the briefing from public works, we’ve already removed close to 50% of the debris in Deer Park,” he said. “Getting back to normal is important, any aspect of where we’re at today is transitioning from response to recovery and how we get there is part of why we’re all standing here today.”

As previously reported by Houston Public Media, more than 100,000 people experienced power outages on Tuesday, and Mayor Mouton said Centerpoint reported today, only about 1,200 people in Deer Park are still left without power. Deer Park had 18 homes destroyed, 63 homes had major damage, and 18 homes suffered minor damages.

Mouton says with so much damage caused by the tornado, he’s thankful there were no casualties.

“It could have been significantly worse,” he said. “And when you look at the scenario – there’s no question in my mind that God has his hand on this equation.”

Some have stepped up to help assist in the recovery process for residents. Lowe’s dropped off 300 cleaning kits at the center and a pastor from Beaumont dropped off hygiene kits. Both cities have waived permit fees for storm restoration.

Pasadena and Deer Park officials said the state has already declared the tornado an emergency disaster and they’re meeting federal officials tomorrow to make sure recovery assistance is on the right track to getting to those residents affected.

Both Pasadena and Deer Park have created a tornado recovery resource page that can be accessed on both city’s websites.