SALADO, Texas (KXAN) — A group of Round Rock firefighters is aiding one of their own after the Tuesday tornado in Salado damaged Round Rock Fire Department driver Joshua Bonney’s home.
Bonney and his wife were at their daughter’s cheer practice when the tornado touched down, Bonney said. After they learned about the tornado, families began traveling home and took cover under an I-35 bridge while golf-ball-sized hail came down.
Driving closer to home, the family began seeing more damage.
“The closer we got to our house, the more devastating it got,” Bonney said.
The home slid off the foundation, but a metal awning caught the house before it slid downhill. The family’s 530-square-foot tiny home was not a total loss. However, the neighboring trailer that Bonney’s father-in-law lived in will need to be replaced.
Weeks earlier, Bonney and RRFD assisted in the recovery of the March 21 tornado that stretched from Round Rock to Granger. Then, Bonney’s home was hit during the Tuesday evening tornado in Salado and Florence. The tornado damaged 76 structures, according to Bell County.
Round Rock firefighters rallied around Bonney with cleanup help and a $1,000 donation to assist with immediate expenses from the Round Rock Association of Professional Firefighters Local 3082 and the Texas State Association of Firefighters.
Starting Wednesday morning, groups of Round Rock firefighters, including several who also live in Salado, formed shifts to volunteer to clear downed trees on Bonney’s 3.5-acre property.
Round Rock Fire Lt. Aaron Danner, the treasurer of the Round Rock association and a 17-year firefighter, said firefighter volunteers have taken shifts to help Bonney clean up since access to the tornado-affected area is limited.
Danner said he visited Salado after the tornado, and the tornado path’s “eerie remnants” mirrored those of the 55-day Bastrop wildfires from 2011.
“It’s just a complete decimation of all the homes, all the trees, all the landscape,” Danner said.
Johnny Davidson, a Round Rock Fire captain, said the process to gather volunteers was effortless, as firefighters quickly stepped up to help someone in need — just as they do for Round Rock citizens.
“These are the same guys that spent five to seven days doing the same exact thing in Round Rock,” Davidson said. “Now, we find ourselves doing it for one of our own brothers.”
Bonney said the support from the firefighters’ union, the city and the fire department has been “tremendous,” and the family will not be moving.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Bonney said. “We’re going to fix what needs to be repaired and continue living right where we’re at.”
Until repairs are finished, Bonney’s family is living in an Airbnb stay that was donated. People looking to help Bonney and his family can contact Danner at (512) 796-8667.
Others looking to help with other Salado tornado recovery efforts can contact (254) 534-2217.