Hooie Hanna and her partner Vickie live in Copeville, on the east side of Lake Lavon in northeast Collin County. Hooie owned a restaurant that was destroyed in the tornados that hit on Dec. 26. And Vickie works for the post office, but has stage three breast cancer and has three more months of weekly chemotherapy, which will be followed by radiation. She’s used up her sick leave.
The former Oak Lawn residents have been together 11 years and moved to Copeville seven years ago.
Hanna said at first the community didn’t know what to think of the couple, but has since embraced them.
While the restaurant was in a gas station, Hooie is a master chef who made sure her community was fed well.
“If you walked in our restaurant and couldn’t pay, we’d feed you,” she said.
One of the people who worked for her was Jerry Brazeal.
“How can I describe him?” she said. “He was a homeless drunk who went to work for me the day I opened and was there when …”
… When it was destroyed.
Brazeal was thrown over the building and killed. Hanna said he was like family and she was given his ashes.
Her lease stipulated the tenant would carry liability insurance and the landlord would carry insurance to cover disaster and damage. But Hanna’s landlord showed up the night of the storm, after the tornado had moved through, and announced that he had dropped insurance coverage three months before the storm. Hanna said she hasn’t been able to get in touch with him since.
The beauty salon and daycare in the same shopping center were also destroyed — and also not covered by insurance. Hanna said she has spent quite a bit of her time since the tornado trying to get cribs and other items to reopen the daycare.
She reached out for other help. The Red Cross hung up on her, saying they couldn’t help with destroyed businesses.
Collin County hasn’t been declared a federal disaster area so she’s not eligible for help from FEMA or low interest federal loan assistance. Banks won’t write her a small business loan because she no longer has collateral. When she contacted her bank about her mortgage, she was told she needed to remain current on her loan or they’d accelerate payments. That’s bank talk for foreclose.
Hanna said even Facebook’s been against her. Most of the pictures she posted on Facebook have been taken down. When she complained, Facebook responded that they were duplicates. She assured they weren’t duplicates, but to Facebook, one blown down house looks like another.
They traded out one of their cars for repairs to the roof on their house and barn.
Hanna and her partner need some help. She hates asking for help, so she’s not asking. But we are. She has a GoFundMe page.
She said she just wants to take care of her family, which includes Vickie’s mother who lives with them.
“I just want to get back open out here,” she said. “We were making a living.”
You can contact Hanna on her Facebook page.