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'We have a lot of neighbors hurting right now': North Texas nonprofit connects tornado victims with church volunteers

Organizers fear it will take a full year to help families affected by the tornado return to normal and that is enough time for many families to dip into poverty.

DALLAS — It has been more than six weeks since tornadoes tore through North Texas and displaced hundreds of families. In many cases, there has been little to no positive movement in getting those families back into their homes. 

Families are maneuvering through insurance claims and adjusters and contractors and that can often take time.

Martha Vega has been told it will be between six and eight months before she can get back into her family home.

"My grandparents, parents, and us," Vega said about the three generations of her family that have lived in their Dallas home.

The inside of her home is in desperate need of repairs. There are several places where the roof is exposed through the ceiling. There is water damage throughout the home.

"It's devastating to see it this way," said Vega.

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Rebecca Walls of the religiously-affiliated nonprofit called UNITE seeks to connect these families with help. 

The nonprofit's website describes their mission as a means to "connect Christian leaders to each other and to resources needed to address the urgent social challenges facing our city."

Walls says their local network of 400 churches and groups can help facilitate resources.

"We have a lot of neighbors hurting right now. People just don't know though," Walls said.

Walls says there are many tornado victims who either don't know there's help available or think they can brave through without needing assistance.

The Vegas are staying in a hotel several miles from their current home. Martha stops by the home almost every day just to check on it for security purposes. 

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Normally the family hosts Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, not this year.

"People think they're going to be back on their feet in about a month and when they realize it's going to take 6 or 12 months, they get depressed," said Walls.

Walls fears it will take a full year to help most of the families affected by the tornado to return to normal and that is enough time for many families to dip into poverty. 

UNITE is dispatching volunteers into these neighborhoods next week to find out the need and to connect them with help. Organizers encourage those wishing to help to also visit the website for opportunities.

It was a comfort for the Vegas who early-on got help with gift cards and groceries. Martha is just hopeful there's a home left to give her 8-year-old son Jonathan, the next generation.

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