East Texas couple returns home after community helps rebuild house destroyed by tornado

Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 6:54 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:35 AM CST
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BOGATA, Texas (KLTV) - A year after an East Texas couples home is destroyed by a tornado, they move back in, with the help of family and their community.

It was last November that tornadoes ripped through Red River county near the Bogota area, damaging dozens of homes.

One home in particular was the focus of a community wide effort.

November 2022, heavy damage was done to the home of Regan and Rue Anna Bell, which they had lived in for 20 years, crushed under the weight of a tornado.

“Kind of scary. You’re gone 20 minutes, you come back and there’s nothing. The lights were gone, electricity was gone, poles were gone, house was gone, just totally dark,” Rue Anna says.

Family friend Regina Miller was a the home when it was hit.

“When I came through the front door, the back doors, the glass blew out of them. Knelt down and held onto the wall, until the wall actually lifted,” she says.

She got out uninjured.

Meanwhile the Bell’s have lived resourcefully on one of their children’s properties while waiting to get the home rebuilt. And people came to the rescue.

“The whole community, there were hundreds of people here helping for clean-up the next day. We were here endless hours, in the week, morning hours, staging it, getting it ready finishing the lighting,” said son Brandon Bell.

Their children, community members and people from across several counties pitched in to put tireless hours in trying to rebuild the home.

“It was emotional. Hundreds of people came from all over. Lamar county, Red River county, all our friends,” Rue Anna says.

On Friday they received a police and fire department escort to a kind of reveal, as the home was complete for them to return.

“We all cried and cheered, and brought them on home,” Brandon says.

“all we say is a big thank you, we’re in debted to them, and we love all of them,” Regan says.

And the Bell’s were able to save numerous heirlooms passed on to them by their parents and grandparents, which now decorate their rebuilt home.