East Texans working to restore order after storm devastation

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE)- Storm victims have spent the day trying to restore order after last night's storms devastated parts of Lufkin.

"Right here, there's quite a bit of damage. Could have been worse but thankfully it wasn't," said Brothers Tree Service Owner Brent Grousel.

The storm was enough to destroy Max's Welding Shop, and leave one East Texas family next door sifting through their memories.

"My kids and I had plans to cook Christmas dinner and you know bake cookies for Santa tonight. And you know, they are wondering if they're gonna get to do that," said Jakoya Grimes.

An apparent tornado caused the roof of her apartment to cave in, leaving Grimes to sort through the mess. She hopes some items might be saved, especially the Christmas presents for her 8 and 6-year- old daughters.

"There's a lot of pictures and other important things in my living space that are ruined. So I just have to dig through and see what I can find."

Although she did not have renter's insurance, Grimes hopes her family will find a new apartment soon.

"It is putting a damper on the Christmas holiday but it's making my faith stronger. I'm having faith that we'll make it through this and you know, God doesn't put more on us than we can bear."

Grimes and her family were just one of the dozens of storm victims that went to Red Cross at South Side Baptist Church for help.

"There was food and cots available for me and my girls."

Just down the road, Gipson Funeral Home assessed their storm damage.  The building is still standing despite a collapsed roof.

 "We're truly thankful that none of our employees were here and that those we were entrusted to care for were fine," said Marketing Manager Mike Bruns.

The inventory shed carrying several caskets for future use was demolished, and the storm sent caskets in every direction. Some reported seeing caskets in trees and one resident saw them in his backyard.

Most of the caskets have been recovered although there are still a few scattered throughout the area.

Although it's not at all the Christmas they planned for, these storm victims have the gift of survival to be thankful for this Christmas Eve.

Gipson Funeral Home is working on restoring services for the building. For now, they are transferring services to their sister funeral home, Oakley Metcalf on Shepard Street.

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