LANCASTER (CBSDFW.COM) – After touring Lancaster, one of the hardest hit areas by spring tornadoes Tuesday, Governor Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration for Dallas, Tarrant, and Kaufman Counties.
From the air, the Governor surveyed the path of destruction the tornado left behind in Lancaster.
Looking out the window, he said, “That’s hammered right through there, just hammered, look at that. Holy Mackerel.”
On Tuesday, The EF-2 twister’s 130 mile per hour winds destroyed houses and cars throughout Lancaster.
In all, 300 suffered damage, half severely.
No one was killed.
The Governor told a news conference, “Thank the Lord, it could have been worse.”
Mr. Perry walked through this neighborhood at West Wintergreen Road and Roan Drive. He said, “This thing was seven point one miles long, 200 yards wide. I think according to all the detail we have this was the most impacted area.”
He and others credit first responders here with sounding the tornado sirens 20 minutes before it arrived, and holding a training exercise here just three weeks ago.
Perry said, “Almost identical to what happened, having that ability to practice and put in place I would suggest to you saved lives in this community.”
State Senator Royce West, Democrat of Dallas said, “We are in fact our brothers keeper. What you see is individuals from 30 miles away that are here that have been here to offer support.”
The Governor spoke briefly with homeowner Mandel Allen. While his home didn’t suffer damage this severely, the Governor assured him the state will work quickly to secure federal help.
Allen said, “He said he was going to help us get funds to rebuild. I hope he’s truthful about that.”
Across Wintergreen Road, Pastor Glenn Young told Governor Perry about the nervous time he spent waiting out the storm with dozens of children.
The tornado was headed straight for his Cedar Valley Christian Center — and child care, and 100 kids were inside.
Young said they moved them to a window-less room.
Once inside, the tornado tore apart an outside wall.
Thankfully, he says, the pieces blew outside, and missed all of the children. “It’s a miracle for sure.”
So Young says his staff then moved the children again — this time into the gym. “That kind of shook them when they moved them here, they were crying and asking for their mamas.” Who could blame them? “I can’t blame them.”
Now, he and his church will rebuild.
Governor Perry told Young, “You did an incredible job. It could have been a tragedy.”
Pastor Young said the Governor’s visit “Means a great deal. Everything’s going to be taken care of and everything’s going to be worked out.”
He says the state will do what it can to help the Pastor re-open his daycare as quickly as possible. “Thank you Governor, appreciate it.”
The Governor says teams are still assessing all of the damage.
When local teams are done adding it all up, they will send that to the state, which will in turn apply for federal disaster funds.
Governor Perry said, “Trust me, it won’t waste anytime sitting on a desk in Austin. It’ll go directly to the administration. I suspect that very quickly that it’ll be turned around quickly and approved by the administration.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the White House called him Wednesday night, and offered all the help the counties are qualified to receive.