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Granbury Neighborhood Reduced To Rubble By Deadly Tornado

Granbury’s Rancho Brazos neighborhood will remain off limits to residents until officials can account for everyone.  Six people were killed by Wednesday night’s EF 4 tornado, and seven are still missing. 

Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds says it’s a day-to-day search and recovery operation among the very large debris field left by the tornado packing winds up to 200 miles and hour. The Sheriff says he doesn’t know when residents will be allowed back in.

“Not until we know that we’ve covered all the bases, made sure everybody’s out of there and everybody’s safe and it’s a safe environment,” Hood told reporters gathered in Granbury.

Deeds says four men and two women were killed. One man and one woman were each in their 80s. The victims are identified as Glenda and Bob Whitehead, Tommy Martin, Leo Stefanski, Marjorie Davis and Jose Tovar.

Anita Foster with the Red Cross has helped hundreds of people deal with the grief and loss of a deadly disaster. She says when residents of Rancho Brazos do return to see the damage in the daylight, it’s going to be startling.

“As we came into the neighborhood, it was starkly apparent that for a number of families the loss would be everything that they have,”  Foster said standing on a Rancho Brazos street surrounding by debris.

She says the Red Cross is in Granbury to provide temporary shelter, food, clothing and tools for the eventual pick through what may be left and clean up. But she says trained counselors are also in Granbury to provide equally important help.

“When people go through something as traumatic as what they’ve been through here in Granbury, they’ll help parents know how to talk to their kids, work them through their fears," Foster said. "And they’ll help parents learn how to cope themselves to they can be there to support each other.”

Rancho Brazos was a neighborhood of 110 homes.  Only ten escaped the fury of the tornado.  The storm tore off roofs, crumbled walls, and reduced many more homes to piles of sticks and twisted metal. It ripped other homes off their slabs, leaving nothing. 

Hood County officials say they are developing a coordinated relief effort and donation site for people who want to help. 

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.