‘Pray for Granbury’: City digs out after deadly tornado; death toll stands at six

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

Authorities continued to sift through debris Thursday looking for victims. Photo by K'Leigh Bedingfield, Texan News Service

Authorities continued to sift through debris Thursday looking for victims.

Photo by K’Leigh Bedingfield/Texan News Service

Residents in Granbury picked through debris and tried put their lives back together Thursday after a deadly tornado ripped through two subdivisions the evening before, leaving a trail of destruction and at least six people dead.

“Pray for Granbury,” Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds told reporters at a midnight news conference.

The death toll stood at six Thursday morning, Deeds told another news conference to update reporters on the tornado. Seven remained unaccounted for. Dozens of people were injured and flooded area hospitals.

First responders from throughout the region, including Somervell County, sifted through debris throughout the day.Authorities brought in special dogs that sniff for bodies.

Meanwhile, a team from the Humane Society of North Texas was rounding up loose and trapped pets and preparing to care for them until they could be reunited with their owners.

The National Weather Service rated the tornado as an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with EF-5 being the worst in terms of winds and destruction. In comparison, the huge tornado that almost wiped out the Central Texas town of Jarrell in 1997 was rated an EF-5. The 2000 tornado that swept through downtown Fort Worth was rated an EF-3.

Journalism students from Tarleton State University were among those allowed to board a news bus to tour the hardest hit areas.

After viewing the destruction, the students wrote in a live blog: “The sights here are devastating. Alarms in houses are going off. Lost dogs are left behind. Cars (are) flipped over and completely destroyed. It looks like a scene from the movie ‘Twister.’”

Photo by K'Leigh Bedingfield/Texan News Service

Photo by K’Leigh Bedingfield/Texan News Service

The Somervell County Fire Department was among area first responders that rushed to the scene. Fire Chief Mark Crawford said the department dispatched 13 people, two ambulances, an engine, rescue truck and command vehicle to Granbury and was one of the first outside agencies to arrive

“We searched all night for trapped victims and helped transport patients to the hospitals,” Crawford posted on the department’s Facebook page. “Our county judge (Mike Ford) instructed us to help our neighboring community with all we have and I am proud of the work our folks did, and of the local responders whose hard training was tested last night.”

On Thursday Somevell County firefighters worked with the county’s backhoe to dig through the massive amounts of rubble in the search and rescue operation. They found a sign of hope—a colorful parrot, apparently someone’s lost pet, perched on a piece of board.

Photos and videos posted on the Internet also showed eerie signs of how a tornado devastates some things and leaves others untouched. Clothes still hung neatly on a rod in a closet in a home with its roof ripped off, and one residence  suffered only minor damage while others around it were destroyed.

Someone's pet parrot made it through the storm and perched on debris. Photo courtesy of Somervell County Fire Department

Someone’s pet parrot made it through the storm.

Photo courtesy of Somervell County Fire Department

Local residents capture photos, video

Several Glen Rose residents were in or near Granbury when the storms struck.

Fisher Rinderknect was driving to pet sit for Country Pet Care on Pear Orchard Road off of State Highway 144 when the storm hit Granbury several miles ahead.

“I stopped to get gas at Nubbin Ridge and was in there for about five minutes,” Rinderknect recalled. “When I was leaving the gas station the air was perfectly still, but the wall cloud was beginning to twist.”

He snapped a photo of the menacing black cloud (see below, right), then shot another picture before the junction of Highway 144 and Mambrino Highway.

“At the top of the hill is where I was in complete awe when the left tail began to reach down and form into a tornado,” Rinderknect said. “There were several cars also parked on the shoulder of 144. They appeared to be cautious drivers marveling at the spectacle.”

Funnels descend from a wall cloud into Granbury early Wednesday evening. Photo by Fisher Rinderknecht

Funnels descend from a wall cloud into Granbury early Wednesday evening.

Photo by Fisher Rinderknecht

Michele Smith Thompson was at a Bible study at a home on Apache Trail in Indian Harbor when the storm swept in. Several others from Glen Rose also were present, she said.

She posted a video on Facebook shot from the back of the house looking toward the lake. The winds whipped up the water so much that Lake Granbury looked like an ocean with waves and blowing mist.

Hail started falling. At first it was small, Thompson said. Then it got bigger and the electricity went off. The people standing outside watching the storm went inside for cover.

“When we left their house we saw tree limbs down, metal wrapped around trees and people standing outside their homes,” Thompson said. “We did stop and ask if anyone needed help but they said they were fine.”

Thompson said she accidentally drove over a downed power line and when she got to Highway 144 heading north, she could see how black the sky was and hear sirens screaming. She saw Somervell County Fire Department vehicles heading toward Granbury.

“My friend did say that she was glad she was with the group of people she was with last night,” Thompson said. “You know, God always puts us in the right place at the right time.”

Personal belongings lay among the debris. Photo by K'Leigh Bedingfield/Texas News Service

Personal belongings lay

among the debris.
Photo by K’Leigh Bedingfield/
Texas News Service

How you can help

Donations for Hood County tornado victims can be made to Mission Granbury by calling 817-614-2556. They are in need of personal hygiene items, diapers, formula and blankets.

Also, First National Bank of Granbury has set up an account for the tornado victims. You can donate at any of the local branches or send mail to “Hood County Tornado Victims,” P.O. Box 400, Granbury, TX 76048.

Somervell County Emergency Management also posted on its Facebook page today that the church next to Tractor Supply on U.S. 377 in Granbury is requesting help in accepting donations. A temporary donation site has been set up there.

An American flag got swept up in the debris. Photo by K'Leigh Bedingfield/Texan News Service

An American flag strewn in the rubble  was a bright spot and a sign of resilience in the face of tragedy.

Photo by Ryan Cox/
Texan News Service

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