GRANBURY (CBS 11) – Residents in Rancho Brazos put on brave faces as they examined what became of their homes after a massive tornado.

There was limited access to the disaster zone, but media members were allowed in Sunday for a short period of time.

Entering the neighborhood, there was seemingly unending devastation. House after house, tree after tree, car after car, smashed and mutilated by Mother Nature.

“I look across the street and there’s a tangled mess of cars and trees. You just couldn’t comprehend that within an hours time, it looked like a wasteland,” said long-time resident Shirley Warren.

But a symbol of hope was one of the first things erected inside the disaster zone: an American flag.

Miguel Morales surveyed the slab of concrete where his mobile home once stood. He can hardly believe that he and his family survived.

Morales and his wife took cover in their bath room and shielded their three children, ages 10, 8 and 7 on the night of the storm.

“I just closed my eyes and prayed,” he said.

His 10 year old son, Dominic, vividly remembered that fateful night.

“When I was in the bathroom I said, uh, ‘If I die, I always love you,'” he said. “When the tornado came, we — the tornado picked us up and then dropped us over there.”

All five family members were swept up and away by the EF4 tornado, landing in different spots.

Miraculously, they all walked away with only cuts and bruises.

Dominic suffered the worst injury, a deep cut that required 9 stitches.

With the help of volunteers, including one of the children’s teachers, the Morales family was able to find their car keys, social security cards and birth certificates, but not much else.

Everything else, besides a few toys, some clothes and other small items, was buried in a mangled pile of rubble.

Carolyn Sozen, a teacher, said  8 of her students were directly affected by the tornado. She said it was important for her to be with her students during this time of need.

“We just wanted to come and support the family more than anything,” she said.

Sozen said the other students in her class have been very concerned about their fellow students who haven’t been at school due to the tornado.

“The kids that were not affected were very compassionate, concerned. Thinking about them wanting to bring them their own toys, wanting to bring them their own clothes, asking for their phone numbers so they can call them,” Sozen said.

Many of the people here may have lost everything, but they are just grateful to be alive.

“I cried the first day. I was scared, but not anymore. I just say thanks God, for giving me another opportunity for life,” Morales said.

Officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety will continue patrolling the Rancho Brazos neighborhood until further notice.

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