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Nation/World

May 17, 2013

At least 6 die when 10 tornadoes whip through Texas

GRANBURY, Texas — Ten tornadoes touched down in several small communities in North Texas overnight, leaving at least six people dead, dozens injured and hundreds homeless. Emergency responders were still searching for missing people yesterday afternoon.

The National Weather Service gave a preliminary estimate of Wednesday night’s violent system, saying a tornado in Granbury had wind speeds between 166 mph and 200 mph. Other tornadoes damaged nearby Cleburne and Millsap.

Granbury, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, bore the brunt of the damage, as the exceptionally powerful tornado tore through two neighborhoods around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Resident Elizabeth Tovar said fist-sized hail heralded the tornado’s arrival and prompted her and her family to hide in their bathroom.

“We were all, like, hugging in the bathtub and that’s when it started happening. I heard glass shattering and I knew my house was going,” Tovar said, shaking her head. “We looked up and ... the whole ceiling was gone.”

The weather service’s preliminary storm estimate was an EF-4, based on the Fujita tornado damage scale. An EF-5 is the most severe.

Those who saw the destruction in the city’s Rancho Brazos subdivision, which has a significant number of Habitat for Humanity homes, described it as unrecognizable.

Hood County Commissioner Steve Berry said Thursday he couldn’t tell one street from another — some homes were ripped from foundations, others reduced to rubble. Half of one home was torn away while the other half was still standing, glasses and vases intact on shelves. Trees and debris were scattered across yards, and fences were flattened.

Ruby Derrick, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, said the organization has built nearly 70 homes in Hood County, with the majority of those in Rancho Brazos.

Authorities said about 110 homes were either destroyed or damaged in the subdivision; about 40 of the damaged homes were built by Habitat. They said other areas in the county had not yet been assessed.

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