Van Neighbors Team Up to Clean Up Tornado Damage

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VAN, TX - They've got a big mess to clean up in Van, the small East Texas town of 2,600 people. When the tornado blew through Sunday night, it knocked down more than 100 houses and blew trees over.

Recovery won't be easy, but folks here know what's really important.van cleanup tue

"Material things can be replaced. Lives cannot," Michael Mikos said.

Lives like those of David and Brenda Tapley. They were killed when the tornado hit their home. David was a retired Garland cop and a minister at Van United Methodist Church.

Folks digging through the rubble in Van found some precious memories, like David Tapley's birth certificate, a wedding photo and homemade crafts.

"I just thought it would be the right thing to do, to give 'em something. Some of those houses are gone. So, even a little picture, even one picture might help, you know," Gary Hollon said.

The post office is helping reunite photos and keepsakes with their owners.

The tornado was on the ground for almost 10 miles, cutting a 700-yard wide swath from Edom, through Van, north to the Pruitt community.

Path of the Van Tornado

There are some good things happening. Everyone has now been accounted for, the power's back on in most of the town and people are working together to help each other get through this.

"We are in much better shape than I ever dreamed we'd be at this time today," Van Mayor Dean Stone said.

But Van has a long, long way to go.