Tornado-Ravaged Texas Begins Assessing Damage04:38
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Homeowner Chris Wilson pauses among what remains of his home after a tornado swept through the area Tuesday in Forney, Texas. Wilson said no one was home when the tornado came through and he plans to rebuild his home. (AP)
Homeowner Chris Wilson pauses among what remains of his home after a tornado swept through the area Tuesday in Forney, Texas. Wilson said no one was home when the tornado came through and he plans to rebuild his home. (AP)

By: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ARLINGTON, Texas - The tornado hurtled toward the nursing home. Physical therapist Patti Gilroy said she saw the swirling mass barreling down through the back door, after she herded patients into the hallway in the order trained: walkers, wheelchairs, then beds.

"It wasn't like a freight train like everybody says it is," said Gilroy, who rounded up dozens to safety at Green Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. "It sounded like a bomb hit. And we hit the floor, and everybody was praying. It was shocking."

The National Weather Service said as many as a dozen twisters touched down in a wrecking-ball swath of violent weather that stretched across Dallas and Fort Worth. The destructive reminder of a young tornado season Tuesday left thousands without power and hundreds of homes pummeled or worse.

As the sun rose Wednesday over the southern Dallas suburb of Lancaster, one of the hardest hit areas, it was clear that twisters had bounced in and out of neighborhoods, destroying homes at random. Vehicles were tossed like toys, coming to rest in living rooms and bedrooms.

At one house, a tornado had seemingly dipped into the building like an immersion blender, spinning directly down through an upstairs bedroom and wreaking havoc in the family room below before lifting straight back up and away. A grandfather clock leaned slightly but otherwise stood pristine against a wall at the back of the downstairs room that was filled with smashed furniture and fallen support beams.

Despite the intensity of the slow-moving storms, only a handful of people were hurt, a couple of them seriously, and no fatalities were reported as of late Tuesday.

The Red Cross estimated that 650 homes were damaged. Around 150 Lancaster residents stayed in a shelter Tuesday night.

"I guess `shock' is probably a good word," Lancaster Mayor Marcus Knight said.

The exact number of tornadoes won't be known until surveyors have fanned across North Texas, looking for clues among the debris that blanketed yards and rooftops peeled off slats. Knight said city officials and weather experts were surveying the stricken areas Wednesday.

Guests:

  • Tim Madigan, reporter for the Fort Worth Start Telegram
  • Jeff Helms, resident of Arlington, Texas

This segment aired on April 4, 2012.

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