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Twisters Leave Trail Of Damage Across North Texas

A SUV sits next to a damaged home in Forney.

The national weather service says at least four twisters touched down in North Texas yesterday. KERA’s Shelley Kofler has more about what they left behind.

The weather sirens began wailing around noon as severe storms headed towards Fort Worth then continued east.

For the next four to five hours North Texans took cover as winds of more than 100 miles an hour blasted through and drivers on area highways searched for cover.

Driver near Grand Prairie: All I can hear is this roaring sound. I pulled off the exit because the road was flooded.

Driver near Forney: We had to stop from Forney east under every overpass because the hail was so bad.

Driver near Hillsboro: In this area of Hillsboro it’s just hail, heavy, heavy, heavy rain. I was hydroplaning at about 35 miles an hour on the road.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Amber Elliott says the metroplex usually gets at least one, big violent storm system each spring, but Tuesday’s tornadoes that tossed 18-wheelers in the air and peeled away roof tops seemed bigger than usual.

Elliott: Our preliminary count is maybe 10 or 12 touchdowns. I know in Forney it looked like a half a mile wide tornado.

Elliott says video confirms touchdowns in Forney, Arlington, Lancaster and Royce City.

A driver on Interstate 80 heading into Forney around 3:30 saw the swirling funnel touch down.

Driver: I could tell there were a bunch of clouds dipping low. I was on the phone with my wife and right in front of me I looked off to my left I could see the tornado coming down, the wind was howling.

The twister spared the lives of more than 300 children at Crosby Elementary in Forney as it ripped the roof from the school. Then it tore homes from foundations and left a trail of debris as it barreled through the nearby subdivision of Diamond Creek.

Harley Struck stared with disbelief at the pile of debris that had been a friend’s home.

Stuck: It’s just sad to see all this that’s happened, and stuff, because this was his house. We would always come here and hang out and stuff. Now it’s just destroyed, it’s really sad.

Throughout the area there was more destruction.

At DFW airport hail damaged more than 100 planes. Airlines cancelled more than 450 departures at DFW and Love Field.

Lancaster reported heavy damage at the Portofino apartments where some 700 residents were evacuated.

In Arlington staff at the Green Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center relocated some 130 residents after violent winds clipped one wing of the home. Two residents were injured.

Overall damages will certainly reach into the millions of dollars. In contrast the number of injuries was few.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.
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