Tornado Victims Focus On Cleaning Up After Storms

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EUSTACE (CBSDFW.COM) – After getting a better look at the damage, the National Weather Service confirmed that seven tornadoes touched down in and around Canton on Saturday evening. With search and rescue efforts over, people in Van Zandt County, Henderson County and Rains County can now focus on the long process of cleaning up.

Everyone has been accounted for after the storm, but four people did die when the twisters hit over the weekend.

Officials said that 51-year-old Russell “Rusty” Barlow of Corsicana and 57-year-old Kenneth Hughes of Canton were found in a building and home. Authorities located 39-year-old James Clayton Young of Alva inside of his vehicle, just off of Highway 64, and 49-year-old Lucretia Yvette Sykes of Fort Worth was found inside of her car just north of Interstate-20.

The storms carved a 50-mile trail of destruction, damaging a countless number of homes and businesses. The tiny Henderson County town of Eustace was in the path of an extremely powerful EF-4 tornado. It will take some time for residents to rebuild, but those recovery efforts have already started.

People like Biff Howell lost everything. He and his wife rode out the storm in a closet. “I could feel myself lifting up a little bit, and she was holding onto my shirt. And I just grabbed her and pulled myself back down,” he said. After the tornado passed by, there was nothing else left. “It was just a miracle that we all survived.”

Neighbors pulled Carolyn York from what was left of her daughter’s home. Her own house next door was stripped to the slab. York suffered a concussion, along with deep bruises and scrapes, from where the wind wrapped a metal ironing board around her arm.

York also recently lost her husband, but said that she does not feel alone. People have been stopping by with food, donations, clothes and gift cards. “You just feel very blessed and appreciative, and just want to do the same if you get the chance to help somebody else,” she said.

For many families, recovery begins with getting kids back into a school routine. Classes were canceled Monday in the Eustace Independent School District so that everyone could deal with the storm’s aftermath. But now that power has returned to most neighborhoods, classes on Tuesday started at their regular times.

However, while schools in Eustace were open again Tuesday, students in the Canton Independent School District will not go back to class until Wednesday, and the Fruitvale Independent School District may not open again until Thursday. Many of the residents in these areas are still without power.

Eustace schools have bottled water on standby, even though the city’s supply should now be safe. The American Red Cross is keeping shelters open in Canton and Emory as food, water and supplies continue to arrive for the victims. They will also meet with the impacted families on Tuesday to determine exact needs.

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