Compassion drives tornado relief in Temple

By Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public AffairsJune 13, 2024

A house with extensive damage to structure, wood pieces, roofings and other items lay on top.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A photo shows the damage done to a house May 24, 2024, in Temple, Texas, after a tornado caused destruction in the city. (Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Britnia Weight) VIEW ORIGINAL
A group of people pose for a photo outside on grass.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Volunteers pose along with the Weicht family after volunteering June 8, 2024, at a home in Belton, Texas. First Sgt. Robert Weicht, Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, III Armored Corps, and his wife Britnia started a group of volunteers to help with cleaning up damage after two tornadoes blew through an area of Belton and Temple, Texas. (Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Britnia Weicht) VIEW ORIGINAL

TEMPLE, Texas — Two tornadoes ranking EF-1 and EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale tore through an area of Belton, Texas, and West Temple May 22, leaving destruction in their wake.

The next day, 1st Sgt. Robert Weicht, Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, III Armored Corps, and his wife Britnia went to the scene and were horrified by the destruction.

“The pictures that were being posted don’t really do it justice,” Robert said. “We went up and drove around and saw how bad it really was, and we came home. We didn’t really sleep much that night because it was constantly on our mind. It was devastating to witness.”

Britnia agreed, adding the most impactful moment for her happened while she, Robert and their teenage daughter were helping clean up debris in a subdivision in Temple.

“When you first go in, it looked like there was only a little bit of damage, and then you turn to the next street and these big, nice, beautiful houses were just complete rubble,” she said. “I don’t even know how people could crawl out of it. We pulled up to a house that was a two-story house, and an entire side of the second story was gone. There were two-by-fours sticking in the sides of people’s houses. We jumped out and asked if we could help start trying to pick some of it up, and we were literally picking up children’s toys everywhere. That was probably the most profound and heartbreaking moment for me.”

They felt called into action. Britnia posted on her Facebook page, asking if anyone needed help and she received a huge response.

Since May 24, the Weichts, along with some Soldier volunteers from Weicht’s unit, have spent any time they can volunteering and helping more than 95 families recover from the tornadoes including a single mom with two disabled children.

“They’re working themselves to the bone to do everything they can to help these families,” Robert said of the Soldiers.

“It’s constant. If there’s a neighbor that looks like they need help, they’ll go over there and talk to them and see if they need help in any way. It’s just very great to see the amount of compassion that’s growing through the Soldiers themselves to help everybody.”

Britnia agreed, adding the Soldiers have grown from being shy to outspoken and are learning new skills.

“They’ve changed quite a bit and there’s a lot of things that the Soldiers are learning as well,” she said. “We’ve helped do some home repairs that they’re very unfamiliar with. Some of them weren’t used to using chainsaws. They’re learning a lot through this process as well.”

The Weichts said though much has been done, there is still so much to do. They are looking to start a nonprofit to help even more families and they set up a donation station in III Armored Corps Headquarters where nonperishable food and toiletries may be donated. They are also looking for more volunteers who feel called to help those in need in the Fort Cavazos community.

“The biggest thing when we started that I kept thinking about is that we’re all military people, we’re all away from our families,” Britnia said. “If something like this happened back home and I couldn’t get back home I would want people to help take care of my family until I can get there.”

Robert agreed.

“The military’s the best community that there is because we have that sense of teamwork and compassion, work ethic for each other and for our job,” he said. “It’s the understanding that the surrounding areas are a part of our community. The installation directly affects every small town that’s around it. Just because you don’t live there doesn’t mean it’s not a part of our community.”

For more information on how to get involved through volunteering or donating, reach out to 1st Sgt. Weicht by calling 605-305-8980 or Britnia Weicht by calling 573-466-9405. You can also contact Britnia on her Facebook page