Van Zandt County tornado damages 50 buildings - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Van Zandt County tornado damages 50 buildings

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email

UPDATE 11:40AM 01/21/10: According to the National Weather Service, preliminary storm damage in Van Zandt County suggests Wednesday night's tornado was at least a EF-2. They say at least 50 buildings were seriously damaged, of which 30 were homes. 440 acres of land have been declared as devastated by NWS.

CANTON, TX (KLTV) - Some of the worst damage sustained in tonight's storms was found in Canton.  The damage was isolated but severe and held close to the intersection of Interstate 20 and state highway 19.

"I never prayed so hard in my life, I was so scared...I was so scared," said Essie Worthington.

Essie and husband John were staying at the Best Western Hotel in Canton, visiting from Minnesota.

"You always hear a lot about what tornadoes sound like," said John,"Now I really know."

The couple found out firsthand, when just after five p.m. Wednesday evening the sound of a freight train rolled in, leaving a wake of destruction.

"We would've been sucked out of the lobby because one door opened and the other one did and they said we would have been blown into the street," Added Essie.

When the storm had passed, the couple walked out of their hotel to see downed power lines, a roof ripped off a nearby Chevron gas station, and the Best Western sign of their hotel lying next to Dairy Queen.  Authorities arrived minutes after the damage did hurrying to help, Champion E.M.S. responder John Holden was one of them.

"For the type of tornadoes that have touched down and the number of reports that we've had around that there is numerous damage, it was by the grace of God and everything that no one was injured." Holden says.

Authorities are still calling it a volatile situation, one the Minnesota couple says they're lucky to walk away from.

"I think my husband has a lot of bruises on his arms tonight I was hanging on to him so tight I thought if I was going go he was going go with me," smiles Essie.

The Tyler Salvation Army traveled to Canton with a six person relief team.  Their post will be located at the intersection of state highway 19 and Interstate 20 near the Chevron gas station.

Members tell us they will be there through the night and all day tomorrow.

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