Texas residents sift through rubble from tornadoes

Associated Press Modified: April 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm •  Published: April 4, 2012
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FORNEY, Texas (AP) — As a twister bore down on her neighborhood, Sherry Enochs grabbed the three young children in her home and hid in her bathtub. The winds swirled and snatched away two of the children. Her home collapsed around her.

Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt.

Enochs, 53, stood Wednesday amid the wreckage of what was once her home in the North Texas city of Forney, among the hardest hit by a series of tornadoes that barreled through one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas a day earlier. No one was reported dead, and of the more than 20 injured, only a handful were seriously hurt.

"If you really think about it, the fact that everybody who woke up in Forney yesterday is alive today in Forney, that's a real blessing," Mayor Darren Rozell said.

The National Weather Service is investigating the damage caused by the tornadoes, which appeared to flatten some homes and graze others next door. The twisters jumped from place to place, passing many heavily populated areas overhead and perhaps limiting what could have been a more damaging, deadly storm. Most of Dallas was spared the full wrath of the storms.

While tornadoes can strike major cities, having two major systems strike a single metropolitan area is highly unusual, meteorologist Jesse Moore said. The Texas twisters would have done more damage had they stayed on the ground for more of the storms' path. But weather experts and officials credited the quick response to tornado warnings for preventing deaths or more injuries.

In the Diamond Creek subdivision where Enochs' home was destroyed, residents put on work gloves Wednesday and began cleaning up. Many noticed things in their yards that didn't belong to them.

Enochs doesn't have a clear memory of exactly how things happened Tuesday, but she was found holding her grandson in the bathtub, which had blown into the area where her garage once was. A 3-year-old she was watching was found wandering around the backyard. A neighbor pulled another child Enochs had been taking care of, 19-month-old Abigail Jones, from the rubble.

"I heard the rumbling from the tornado and I didn't even hear the house fall," Enochs said.

Abigail was taken to the hospital but released. The blonde, smiling child with bows in her hair was bruised all over her body, but not seriously hurt. Her mother, Misty Jones, brought her back Wednesday to see what had happened.

Seven people were injured in Forney, none seriously. An additional 10 people were hurt in Lancaster, south of Dallas, and three people in Arlington, west of Dallas.

National Weather Service crews in Forney, east of Dallas, spotted storm damage that suggested the twister there was an EF3, with wind speeds as high as 165 mph. Other tornadoes in Arlington and Lancaster appear to have been EF2 tornadoes, with wind speeds up to 135 mph. Tornadoes can range from EF0, the weakest, to EF5, the strongest. An EF2 or higher is considered a significant tornado.