On March 21, 2022, Round Rock was hit by an EF-2 tornado, causing more than $32 million in damage and affecting more than 680 homes.
The storm hit just before 6 p.m. on Monday, March 21. Calls began to pour into 911 of collapsed buildings, overturned vehicles, downed power lines, fires and a gas leak. Round Rock Police and Fire Departments worked in tandem to triage calls for service and conduct door-to-door welfare checks. Transportation crews immediately went to work repairing dozens of traffic signals and hundreds of signs that had been damaged. Within three hours, nearly all affected homes had been checked, and all Round Rock residents had been accounted for.
From the moment the tornado hit, the Round Rock community joined together to help each other. Although individual volunteers were asked to avoid the impacted area for the first few days as City crews worked to clear roadways and bring infrastructure back online, approximately 500 volunteers showed for a cleanup event held on Saturday, March 26.
Several organizations also came together to provide help to those in need in the days, weeks and months following the tornado. Although there are too many individuals and organizations who volunteered to name them all, below is a list of organizations that were recently recognized by the City of Round Rock’s Neighborhood Leader Conference:
Central Texas Refuse – Central Texas Refuse was the sole provider of debris removal for the community. The tornado touched down in the evening of March 21, the very next morning CTR began coordinating with the City of Round Rock the immense cleanup effort to address the damage. CTR prioritized resources as needed to work with the City. They deployed over 30 roll-off containers throughout the affected areas, ultimately hauling 185 loads of debris. Additionally, CTR put their entire residential fleet of rear load trucks into service on Saturday, March 29 for the first major clean-up effort. In total, CTR hauled almost 300 tons of storm debris and continued to work with the City until the clean-up was complete in May. The City of Round Rock does not own trash trucks or roll off dumpsters, and thus no real way of removing the debris so that the recovery and repair process could begin. CTR played a major role in helping restore these neighborhoods.
Round Rock Express – The Express opened the Heritage Center at Dell Diamond immediately following the tornado, and the facility became the site for supplies and assistance for residents as well as the mobile command center for the City’s first responders. “The Dell Diamond’s proximity to the affected neighborhoods, as well as size of the facility and parking, made it an ideal location as the recovery epicenter,” said Joe Brehm, Director of Community Development. “The use of their facilities made all the difference in the recovery work.”
Austin Disaster Relief Network – ADRN provided pallets of food, water, household supplies, gift cards, hotel stays, moving boxes, cleanup buckets, hygiene kits and numerous additional resources at the Heritage Center for a week after the tornado. ADRN provided emotional and spiritual care for survivors, and coordinated with 12 other agencies to offer programs, support and supplies to approximately 350 families. ADRN continued to work with dozens of families in the months following the tornado to get help and resources, helping displaced renters and assisting with vehicle repairs and replacement.
Samaritan’s Purse – Samaritan’s Purse is faith-based humanitarian aid organization that deploys to disaster-stricken areas to provide aid to people in physical need. The group included trained and insured volunteers that helped seal roofs and provide free work on private property with the owners’ permission. In the two weeks following the tornado, the group’s 176 volunteers worked a total of 1,784 hours on 50 homes.
Home Depot – Within days of the tornado, Home Depot staff contacted the City to offer a donation of $3,000 worth of tools and supplies to help with recovery. While the City’s Tool Lending Center had been deployed to help with the recovery, many of the trailer’s existing electric tools were not able to be used since power had not yet been restored. With this donation, the City of Round Rock’s Neighborhood Services team created a disaster tool bank that includes a 4500-watt gas powered generator, six gas powered chain saws, four metal wheelbarrows and boxes of leather work gloves. These tools will be available for rapid deployment in the event of a future disaster.
Goodstock by Nolan Ryan – Goodstock raised $10,000 for Round Rock Cares in sales and used their social media presence to share information about Round Rock Cares so that their followers could learn more and donate.
Rotary Club of Round Rock – The Rotary Club of Round Rock provided 180 hours of service through volunteers in the field and at the Dell Diamond. Volunteers in the neighborhood distributed water, snacks and packing supplies and helped pack up an entire neighbor’s home. They removed debris by placing it in roll-off dumpsters and the garbage trucks, distributed flyers regarding available resources and registered volunteers during the Saturday cleanup event.
Lone Star Santas – Lone Star Santas brought Christmas cheer early for families impacted by the tornado by hosting a Caravan of Toys event on May 7. The non-profit organization provided toys for 28 registered families, accounting for a total of 60 children in need. Each child was able to pick any two toys, two stuffed animals, and additional toys from a grab-bin. Finally, they took a photo with Santa in his chair, which the team printed instantly.
Celebration Church – Several of the Celebration Church’s staff are trained in disaster recovery and volunteered the week of the tornado. Church members took on leadership roles at the massive cleanup event on March 26 and brought over 250 volunteers from their congregation on the cleanup day.
Kyle’s Challenge – Kyle’s Challenge is a grassroots community effort that started in 2013 as the 50 Turkey Challenge. In response to the tornado, the team smoked BBQ meals for 300 volunteers and residents during the March 26 cleanup event, followed by another 160 more meals for first responders the following the week.
RunnerCity – RunnerCity is delivery request group that dedicated 15 volunteers for eight hours per day during the week after the tornado. Their volunteers rented two U-Haul trucks, three pickup trucks and two trailers to run the entire week of the cleanup, moving debris and assisting impacted residents with rides. Their team delivered meals and supplies from the Heritage Center to residents and brought residents from their homes to the center to receive support and supplies.
The Texas Fallen Project – The Texas Fallen Project primarily travels the state to honor fallen Texas veterans, but the local non-profit’s mission has grown to offer support to other non-profits with manpower and food service. Texas Fallen Project team members provided 1,500 meals to residents and volunteers during the first week of recovery.
The Round Rock Noon Lions Club – The Round Rock Noon Lions Club raised $10,000 in direct financial aid to residents. The club purchased $7,000 worth of gift cards, giving $500 to 14 families in need, and supplied another $3,000 in HEB gift cards to families. The group hosted and cooked a spaghetti dinner at Kensington Park for residents, and delivered those meals door to door.
Grace Presbyterian Church – Grace Presbyterian Church was in the tornado’s path and was located less than 200 ft. from a home that was completely destroyed. As the closest place of worship, Grace Presbyterian Church wanted to be a resource for neighbors, regardless of their religion. The church hosted a dinner for 110 families and raised funds for direct financial assistance for two families, giving each $2,500, and provided more than a total of $7,000 in gift cards to others. They also hosted a neighborhood Easter Eggstravaganza with activities, which was attended by 500 people, many of whom said it was a much-needed break from disaster recovery.
Walmart – One of the very first, and certainly one of the most memorable, videos of the tornado was taken from the entrance from the Round Rock Walmart. The store ended up donating four pallets of water and three trailer loads of non-perishable food such as cereal, soup, snacks and other refreshments to impacted neighborhoods.