Access blocked to Lancaster tornado victims

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on April 4, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 8:20 AM

LANCASTER — It was an emotional day for homeowners in Lancaster who had their homes blown to pieces on Tuesday.

Yes, they are worried about their homes, but many were even more concerned that they weren't permitted to get a close look at the damage on Wednesday.

That led to some chanting and heated arguments with racial overtones.

The city said it wanted to protect residents from looters and bad contractors because damaged homes are unstable, but some of the tornado victims said that because they are in the southern sector of Dallas County in a predominantly African-American community, they are being treated differently.

They let it be known that they are not happy about it.

Throughout the day, tempers flared between residents who want to get to their homes and officials standing in their way.

One couple held up signs saying, "Our homes not yours!" and "Let us in our homes or help us with our expenses!"

"It's a black community, and, you know, and they feel like, I mean, they can just do us any kind of way over here," one of the protesters said.

On Tuesday night, residents in the stricken area were told to grab a few belongings and be out by 7 p.m. They were told they could come back in the morning.

"They're controlling our neighborhood," the protesting man said. "This is not their homes; we pay for this ... don't nobody tell us when to come in and when not to come in."

They were frustrated after seeing tornado victims in other areas like Forney salvaging their belongings while they sat in frustration.

Volunteers from all around the country have come to help with cleanup and rebuilding efforts, but News 8 was prohibited from talking or taking pictures of any of them.

That all changed late Wednesday afternoon when roadblocks into the tornado-hit neighborhood were lifted and residents were permitted to return.

On Wednesday evening, a map was published outlining three neighborhoods that remain off-limits "until further safety steps can be performed."

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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