Tracking the storm: Helicopter footage provides view of tornado’s path

Tracking the storm: Helicopter footage provides view of tornado’s path

EAST TEXAS (KLTV/KTRE) - An East Texas county is under a disaster declaration after a deadly round of severe weather.

Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis signed the disaster declaration Saturday night at a command post. Sunday, the death toll from the storms rose to eight people across the south, with four of those deaths occurring in East Texas.

We sent up Chopper 7 to get a good look at the path of damage from the air. East Texas News Weekend’s Jamey Boyum gave us a look at the devastation. Below, he gives a personal account of the damage he saw while tracking the storm’s path.

We intercepted the damage path near alto and followed the broken trees back to the first signs of snapped pines. As far as we could see it started in the Davy Crockett National Forest northeast of Crockett, although it may have started more southeast.

RAW VIDEO: An aerial view of storm damage in Alto

"Trees were downed facing every direction. Some areas the trees were nearly in a circular pattern. The path went several miles before it found any structures. Fortunately homes were far apart.

"One structure was shredded, debris stretching out for a hundred yards. Larger buildings had roofs peeled back along Highway 21. You could see the damage to the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site was extensive, and neighboring buildings and mobile homes were destroyed.

"Home after home had at least roof damage as the path seemed to follow Highway 21. Approaching Alto the damage path left the roadway and plowed through Dominy Dairy and then into forest. Moving northeast the storm found Highway 21 again, and Alto. There were many buildings and homes suddenly in its path. Homes were moved off foundations, shredded and flattened not too far from the school.

"Trees were on many houses, and other homes ripped open, or just a few walls left still attached to foundations. Some homes here were also torn apart, debris scattered for hundreds of yards into the splintered trees. We moved northeast out of town, at times losing the trail, but then there would be another group of downed trees, another home torn open.

“It was difficult to tell the difference between the two tornado’s paths. After a 14-minute flight averaging about ninety miles an hour the path of broken trees narrowed and finally stopped. Our helicopter pilot estimated the path of destruction stretched about thirty miles. Fortunately the majority of the path of destruction took place in unpopulated areas.”

To help the victims of these storms, click here to donate to either the American Red Cross or the East Texas Food Bank. Both agencies are working daily in these storm-impacted areas of East Texas.

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