Tag Archives: tornadoes

Seeing the damage first hand

On Memorial Day, a tornado went right outside of my hometown in Texas… and right through my uncle’s house.

Tornado aftermath

It was a quiet day for me and my husband, as he came in off the road that day. I had been checking my parents weather periodically since I’d gotten up. I knew the potential for bad weather was there, and I found myself peeking at the radar a little more often than usual.

My mom texted me that they were under a tornado warning, but they didn’t have TV, internet, and their cell phones were hardly telling them anything. I immediately turned on Weather Channel, and as it came on I hear, “Cameron, Texas, take cover RIGHT NOW.”

I grabbed my phone, called my Mom, and started loading up the Waco TV stations hoping they were streaming live. I found KCEN-TV was streaming live, and I started relaying to her what they were saying. We dropped the call probably four to five times as lightning struck close to their house.

The rotation on radar stayed just outside of city limits, and I breathed a sigh of relief when it seemed it had missed my parents and my brother. Not even, at that moment, realizing that other family members might not be so lucky.

Tornado aftermath

It didn’t take long for the message to come through that my uncle’s house had taken a direct hit and was a total loss. They were all (thank God) okay. Thanks to the warning alert on my cousin’s phone, they’d hidden in the bathroom as their house was ripped apart. The roof was gone, windows imploded… they were lucky to have been in a brick house, too, as the walls held up well enough given the circumstances. They came through it shaken, but physically okay.

Tornado aftermath

I reached out to friends whose families live in the area to make sure they were all okay. Luckily, all were accounted for as wel.

The parents of my brother’s close friends in high school lived right across the road from my uncle, however, were not so lucky. Word came soon that the damage to their home was far worse than my uncle’s. It was completely picked up and flipped over by the tornado. (Many houses in the area are built just sitting on blocks. I’ll be honest, I never thought about how precarious that truly is until that day.)

Tornado aftermath

The husband was found with a head injury and rushed to the hospital. My uncle and his family found the wife under debris in shock. (Their house landed upside down!) She had back pain and was also taken to the hospital. Their house, of course, a total loss, but both alive and as of today already out of the hospital.

Frankly, that is a miracle, in my opinion.

Tornado aftermath

There was one casualty that day, I am sad to say.

The tornado touched down near CR 206A in Milam County, and traveled many miles.  On the map, it seemed to keep a straight path, but looking at the damage left behind, it seemed to zig zag across the countryside.

One man was killed when his mobile home was hit along that random path and destroyed. His wife is still in the hospital. My heart and prayers go to his family.

Tornado aftermath

The National Weather Service declared it was an EF-2 that did all the damage in my little hometown area in Texas. For there to be only one casualty is amazing, in my opinion.

My husband was ready to get in our truck that day and drive to Texas to help. I had already had a trip to Texas planned for a few weeks, though, so I said we’d just stay put and see what happened as the week progressed. I was fully prepared to get to town and help with clean up at my uncle’s house. However, in the days since the tornado, they’ve gotten so much work done that there’s not much I could do at this point (though I am ready to help if they need me.) Sometimes, though, I suppose it is just better to stay out of the way.

Tornado aftermath

I’ll be honest. I know this was a small compared to tornados that have wiped out entire towns. But this is the first one that had this direct of an impact on my family. This is the first one I’ve actually walked through the aftermath of…

Broken glass. Twisted trees.

A photo posted by Denise (@niseag03) on

It’s surreal. It’s something you see on TV. It’s something you know could happen, but you always pray it doesn’t. And then when it does, you get a serious reality check.

Oh they will rebuild. And in the end, there will be a positive made out of this negative. A larger and better home. One built with extra safety measures in place. But for right now, there’s a grieving to get through. There is a lot of work to be done. There is emotional healing to handle. It will definitely take going one day at a time, but it will get better. I know it will.

Tornado aftermath

>>CLICK HERE to see all the images I took of the damage.<<


Note… there will be a fundraiser for my uncle’s family on Saturday, May 30 at Brookshire Bros. in Cameron, TX starting at 10 am. Proceeds from a bake sale and the sale of sausage wraps will go to the family to help them rebuild.  Any help will be greatly appreciated!


Growing up in Texas, we had tornado drills just as often as fire drills. If I remember right, it was three short bursts of the bell and we lined up, went into the hallway, and ducked against the walls covering our heads.

Being one of the tallest kids in class, I mostly remember it being a pain in the butt trying to crouch down as tight and low as my classmates. I don’t think it ever really set in with me the importance of those drills either… Because we had gotten lucky for years. My little hometown missing the bullet.

I remember many nervous nights at home, though, listening to the wind howl, watching the weather, lighting hurricane lamps. Even then, we we’re lucky. Time and time again, the tornados missing us.

Fall 1996, our first football game of the year, storms billowed and churned. We warmed up in the band hall, when someone broke in and told us to take cover. We huddled up again the only brick wall in that building. I remember holding hands and praying with my friends for safety and protection from the danger. I remember how eerie it was hours later, after the game was postponed and we all went home safe, that the skies parted and we ended up with the most brilliant sunset. We once again got lucky.

No one knew, though, that about 8 months later another small town would not fare so well. May 1997, 20 tornados touched down within less than two hours of my home. One was an EF-5 tornado that hit the town of Jarrell, Texas, killing 27 people — 11 of which were teens like me… 6 of those had been on the football team. I remember crying for the loss of those lives. It hit so very close to home.

There is no asking, “Why?” There is only, “How can I help?”

When I moved to Nashville, it seemed “tornado alley” followed me. April 2009, the “Good Friday tornado outbreak” occurred. My husband and I were in Texas for Easter, and we watched online as a large EF-4 tornado swept across Middle Tennessee… Only a few miles from our home. Once again, tears were shed, especially for the mother and her 9-week-old who were killed.

Moore, OK. Joplin, MO. The April 25-28, 2011 outbreak. This week I happened to be watching tv as Tupelo, MS took a direct hit. The footage out of Arkansas was staggering.

Every time tornado warnings come I wonder if this is the time I won’t be so lucky. Is this the time we will be facing starting over… assuming we get through it.

And yet, outside of trusting I know what to do — seek shelter, protect myself the best I can, pray — there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t stop the tornados. I can’t avoid them entirely. What will be, will be. And should that day come that “my luck runs out” I pray I have the strength to do what has to be done and the faith to keep going forward.

My prayers are with all the victims of these latest storms as well as those still living with the scars of past tragedies.

CNN has compiled a great list of ways we can all help victims of these massive storms.