One Year Later, Rowlett Still Rebuilding With a Faithful Effort

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ROWLETT -- "We run toward the messes! And God cleans them up."

It's hard not to read into a Christmas message like that coming from Rowlett's Cornerstone Assembly of God and its pastor, Brian Hiatt.

365 days ago, the city was torn to pieces by tornadoes.

"Once we crossed 66, you could just smell the carnage. It was surreal," Pastor Hiatt said.

Cornerstone dodged the death blow that so many other buildings couldn't avoid.

"Probably within 100-150 yards down Schrade (Road)," Hiatt said. "A couple blocks to the west, the structures are gone."

Some are still gone. A mobile home's wreckage remains underneath the damaged Rowlett water tower.

The city, though, pushes forward.

"You just sense that we're on the comeback trail," Hiatt said. We do prayer walks, and for awhile there we'd walk and nothing would be there."

Hiatt thinks he understands why Cornerstone was spared on December 26, 2015.

"Our role was simply to meet need. A lot of it was meeting their physical needs at first, but we transitioned to not just doing that," he said. "We wanted to meet a deeper need in their life."

He kept up that message in Sunday's Christmas sermon.

"We've got a lot of people in our community, particularly kids, who are scared today," he told the congregation. "Would you just take time to pray for them? We'll pray today."

Many temporary belongings were lost, but something else was gained in Rowlett.

"When you lose a fence, you have to talk to your neighbor," he said. "Many friendships and relationships have grown from this."

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