Artwork dedicated to Rowlett tornado survivors

The town of Rowlett isn't running away from the day that caused so much pain.

ROWLETT, Texas -- The town of Rowlett isn't running away from the day that caused so much pain. Instead, they're close to a permanent reminder that no storm will ever bring them down.

"I've welded welds on top of welds just to make sure that it's strong enough to withstand any winds," said Troy Connatser.

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Connaster of Rowlett is a deck builder by day, artist by night, who has poured his heart and soul into this massive memorial. It's a tribute to the strength the community showed after a tornado rolled through town in the day after Christmas in 2015.

"The Phoenix actually rises from the tornado," Connaster said.

Here is Connaster's original design, a project he sketched over a year ago. The mythical bird is seen flying away from the cyclone, a symbol of resilience and rebirth.

"We want to make sure that we rise above the tornado. We are the 'city on the water,' and we want to be represented as such," Connaster said.

It's been two years since the tornado hit the town, and in that time, the rebuilding effort has been mixed. Some houses are still under construction, while on other lots, you'll simply find slabs -- a harsh reality that storm was just too much for some families to come back from.

Jim Katzenberger knows he could have been one of those families.

"I'd rather see an empty field, then a slab, because some of the slabs still have the steps going up to where the house was. That's been difficult," Katzenberger said.

Grainy pictures show his neighborhood just moments after the EF-4 tornado rolled across his street. His house was left relatively untouched, compared to his neighbors.

"I can still see the tornado coming through the water tower," Katzenberger said.

Katzenberger, among a dozen other residents, are volunteering their time to getting the memorial off the ground. It is a piece of art that will sit it the very path the tornado once took.

"Watching my neighbors getting their houses rebuilt, while I've been building this thing has been very cathartic and very helpful for me," Katzenberger said.

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One of the most recognizable features of the town is now a part of history.

Feet from the work site once stood the Water Tower carrying the towns name, it survived the storm, but in the end, sustained too much damage. It was untimely demolished.

"These are actually from the water tower that they had comedown a couple of months after the tornado," Connatser said.

With the anniversary of the storm approaching, the final work is underway.

"The tornado is going to be flat black. The Phoenix itself is going to be all high gloss," Connaster said.

And while it won't match the height of the tower, it will stand as one of the tallest structures in the neighborhood.

"We're a strong community and that event showed it," Katzenberger said.

It is a permanent reminder that like the Phoenix, this town will rise.