CrossFit Southbelt in Pasadena Ravaged by Tornado as GoFundMe Set Up for Relief Aid

January 26, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Carla Duke
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Chris Duke’s gym in Pasadena, Texas is barely recognizable after being hit by a tornado. But the more amazing part is everyone made it out alive. 

“I still don’t know how we made it out of that building. Just the grace of God that’s all it can be because I don’t know, I don’t know how we made it out,” said Duke, who’s been a co-owner of CrossFit Southbelt for the last five and a half years. 

Duke said the tornado hit them on the afternoon of January 24. He was at the gym along with his wife, a co-owner, and a coach. The gym had just wrapped up a noon class and luckily there weren’t too many people left in the space. 

  • “I have a big bay door. I had that open because the humidity was really bad. So I went to shut that because the wind was picking up, the rain was coming into the building. And I had a hard time shutting it. And then once I shut it, I looked back and I had a bay door on the back of my building, and it just blew off the tracks and blew straight up to the ceiling,” says Duke, describing the scenario. 
  • “And about that time the bay door I just pulled down, blew out the other way out into the parking lot. And that’s when I told my wife and the other coach I said ‘hey, let’s get into the restroom right now.’”
  •  “I just watched my whole building just fall down to the ground. Luckily the restroom stayed up. I noticed today one of the beams that was on the back of the wall was sitting on top of the restroom that we were hiding in.”

Duke adds there had been a tornado warning alert sent to his phone minutes earlier, but he didn’t know it would be coming right for them. 

“We’ve been there nine and a half years. I’ve owned it for the last five and a half and built it into what I wanted it to be. And just watching everything you’ve worked so hard for just come down. It’s really hard,” he added. 

Gyms in the area have been “unbelievable,” said Duke. “That’s why I do CrossFit because the people, but the whole community here in Houston has just been unbelievable, every gym has reached out like ‘what can we do to help?.’

CrossFit Greater Heights in Houston, Texas is one of the first affiliates to launch a fundraiser for CrossFit Southbelt. The gym announced it plans to host a “Rebuilding WOD” on Saturday, February 4th and has set up a GoFundMe page for the event. 

“We are so grateful nobody was harmed. More importantly, we firmly believe that CFSB will regroup and rebuild stronger and better than before,” said CrossFit Greater Heights, in an Instagram post. 

The next step for Duke and the CrossFit Southbelt community will be figuring out a plan to rebuild. The details are still getting worked out but Duke says he anticipates building back in the same space. 

“I think just how long we’re going to be out and just trying to take care of all my members, like, what are we gonna do? Where are we gonna go? And that’s my number one concern right now. Just taking care of all of them,” said Duke. 

If you would like to help CrossFit Southbelt here is a link to their GoFundMe page.

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