Gates walks her district surveying tornado damage

Some city council districts so rarely make the news, I wonder what their representatives get up to all day. Some, like Oak Lawn’s District 14 are top-heavy with an unending train of development-related decisions and brouhahas. But my old District 13 has had more than its share. It’s flooded, lost electricity for days, been gassed by Atmos and most recently blown away by tornados – and on top of that faced several large, always-contentious zoning cases (The Laurel apartments, Preston Center parking garage, skybridge, Highland House, PD-15 and St. Michael’s to name a few).

At the center of this has been Dallas City Council member Jennifer Gates and her team.

Love her or hate her, you can’t fault her communication skills. I lived in her district during most of the disasters and zoning cases (another form of disaster), but I’d decamped by the time the tornados hit. When I was a resident for those earlier issues, her communication was the background hum of those events. Meeting notices, resource listings, progress updates, etc. filled email boxes with regularity.

However, it was after the tornados hit (after I’d moved), that I realized the amount of work her office performed to keep track of the myriad of moving parts required to keep her constituents informed. Being afar and unaffected, I saw the effort in a new light.


By Quin Mathews
Special Contributor

Ever hear of Wandsworth Drive? How did Northaven get that canopy of Live Oaks? Read on…

This story is about tornadoes, but also about trees.  It was near ground zero that I first heard of a “cyclone,” as it was called in the Wizard of Oz, a picture book version that Mrs. Biggerstaff read our class in 1956.  We were the “Gremlins” class at the Mary Boswell School, a preschool and kindergarten in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, just across from the fire station obliterated by the recent tornado and next to Preston Royal Shopping Center.  We know what happened there.

When Mrs. Biggerstaff finished reading us the book, she announced to our delight that the Wizard would be on television that Saturday night.  It was to be its first broadcast ever.  Cyclone, tornado, whatever — it was all very exciting, and on April 2, 1957 my mother called me to our front porch.  There I saw a real one, a long, stringy thing to the south, enormous. No one told me to go inside and take cover.  We watched it and I saw hailstones for the first time. Somewhere in that storm, at least nine people died.

Today parts of North Dallas have been un-landscaped back to the past.  (more…)

By James Bell, Esquire
Special Contributor

The recent tornadoes In Dallas caused an unprecedented swath of destruction in the Preston Hollow area. The EF-3 tornado completely demolished some homes and damaged others, as well as several structures. As an attorney who represents folks whose homes and property are devastated by perils such as these windstorms, when I first learn about these catastrophes, my thoughts naturally turn to the legal rights of the affected property owners. I hope their insurance companies will step up and do the right thing for their policyholders who have been faithfully paying their insurance premiums, praying they never need to file a claim, but believing that, if they should, they will be taken care of by their providers.

Sadly, we know that is not always the case. However, there are some things you can and should do when a disaster strikes your property.

I don’t think we can ever remind people enough about some of the essential steps to take for a proper recovery on an insurance claim, particularly a multimillion-dollar home: (more…)

By Phil Crone, Executive Officer
Dallas Builders Association

The collective hearts of all members of the Dallas Builders Association are with the victims of the recent tornadoes that affected the Dallas area. As our community begins to rebuild and recover, the Association wants to ensure that those affected are not victimized by unscrupulous storm chasers who follow significant weather events all over the country.

How can you spot a storm chaser? Look for contractors, often from out of state, soliciting with flyers in your mailbox or going door to door, and contractors who ask for a signed contract to assess the damage or speak with your insurance adjuster. Sometimes the fine print in these contracts binds you to do business with them. Other red flags include lowball bids, “sign today” price requests for a large down payment or a bid in the entire amount of your insurance settlement.

The best advice is often the hardest to follow when you’re vulnerable, but it will likely keep you from being further victimized by these scavengers. Take your time, do your research and trust your intuition. Ask yourself, “Do I really see myself working with this contractor?” If you are unsure, move on; there are plenty of competent and reputable options in our area. Do not let a pushy sales representative convince you otherwise.  

Be sure to help elderly neighbors, friends or family with this if you can. A quick Google search can turn up anything you need to know about a prospective contractor. Not finding anything also tells you everything you need to know. 

Membership in a professional organization such as the Dallas Builders Association or the National Roofing Contractors Association indicates they are a local contractor who is truly invested in their industry. In fact, the Dallas BA lists builders with experience in specific neighborhoods. You can find builders familiar with Preston Hollow, Midway Hollow, Northwest Dallas, and roofers on our website.  


North Dallas Tornado

Tyler Seguin’s property on Camilla Lane before the North Dallas tornado.

We all know by now that the North Dallas tornado has devastated Preston Hollow. And a lot of you know Dallas Star’s center Tyler Seguin’s mansion on Camellia Drive was struck. What you may not know is that it was beautifully staged by Lisa Stapp, the owner of Staged by Stapp. Along with Seguin’s home, about $55,000 worth of Stapp’s inventory of furniture and accessories were destroyed.

While it may pale in comparison to losing a house worth a couple of million, the livelihoods of those that serve in the real estate community have also been severely affected by the North Dallas tornado.

North Dallas Tornado

The home is completely destroyed after the North Dallas Tornado struck.


Homeowners with pools affected by the North Dallas tornado should take great care with cleanup efforts, experts say.

From Staff Reports

Homeowners with pools may be unaware of how dangerous the bacteria-filled standing water in their backyard could be.  According to Leslie’s Pool Supplies, a homeowner could face health and safety risks as well as expensive property damage if cleanup isn’t handled correctly. To help homeowners get their pools back to normal after the storm, here are a few tips to make the process easier.


It’s every seller’s nightmare. Your home is gaining interest on MLS and it looks like you might have some solid offers coming to the table. You lay your head down thinking that the process is unfolding smoothly, only to be awoken moments later by tornado sirens. 

Jenni Stolarski

If your home is on the market and it has been damaged by a tornado or other natural disaster, what should you do? 

“There are two basic steps if your property has been impacted by the storm,” says veteran Dallas Realtor Jenni Stolarski. “First, be sure to document everything. Secondly, notify key people. After your insurance agent and your mom, your next call should be to your listing agent, even before you post it on social media.”