GRANBURY (CBS 11 NEWS) – As a monstrous tornado approached Granbury, there was only one thing Beatrice and Lucio Gamez could do as they huddled in the hallway with their three daughters.
“Just asking God to take it away…to not let anything happen to my family. Let it go, let it go away!” Said Beatrice Gamez.
Everyone in the Gamez family survived. However, their adult son, who lives just a few houses down, found a friend’s body.
Two women and four men have been confirmed dead as of Thursday afternoon. 64 year old Glenda Whitehead (age unknown), 69 year old Robert Whitehead, 61 year old Tommy Martin, 83 year old Leo Stefanski, 34 year old Jose Alvarez, and 81 year old Marjarie Davis are among those killed by the storms, according to Hood County officials. Another seven people are still unaccounted for. The National Weather Service has confirmed at least 16 tornadoes touched down across North Texas, with the most powerful hitting Granbury. NWS has classified that storm as an EF-4 tornado, packing winds ranging from 166 to 200 miles per hour.
It would blow right past Orlando Villegas’ family’s home.
“We started hearing sirens, we said, ‘Okay, this is a tornado, we gotta get inside.’ I started running. There was debris behind me. It freaked me out like crazy,” he said.
The storms left dozens without homes, and many of them took up residence in a temporary shelter.
CBS 11’s Robbie Owens spoke with survivors who have an amazing amount of gratitude that they made it thorough alive.
Survivors say the suddenness of the storm was stunning. Katrina King and her two kids escaped with just scratches, but said her neighbors were hit hard.
“Their houses went down to like nothing existed. I watched our neighbors crawl out from a little pile of nothing. So we were lucky, very, very, very lucky,” she recalled.
Within hours, The American Red Cross opened shelter for the displaced homeowners and donations began pouring in as well.
Gene May rode out the tornado tucked in a tiny closet. She came out of it with her life and the clothes on her back.
“I don’t have nothing… what I have on is what I have. That’s it,” she said. “My roof came completely off while I was in there, [and] whenever I was able to open the door and look, all I could see was the sky and the rain.”
Volunteers are working to assist those who have lost everything and recognize this will be a long road to recovery.
“We want to make sure they do remain open until every family is safe and has a permanent place to go,” said Anita Foster, American Red Cross spokesperson. “Right now, it’s hard to know….how long that will be. But, it doesn’t really matter. For as long as it takes, we’ll keep those shelters open.”
The Red Cross has damage assessment teams in the neighborhood as well, and they are comparing the destruction to the Alabama tornado outbreak a couple of years ago, just on a smaller scale.
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