Residents Clean up After Tornado - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Rusk County - 4/7/03

Residents Clean up After Tornado

At least 12 families are homeless and 40 homes destroyed by an F2 tornado that plowed through East Texas Sunday afternoon.

The hardest hit area was a 3 mile stretch just outside Tatum on farm to market road 2187 in Rusk County.

"The local fire department's suppose to be collecting clothes." The local chapter of the Red Cross handed out food to victim's Monday morning.

Help came pouring out to residents who had lost everything in Sunday's tornado.

"This is my corner where I read my Bible," says Calvin Cook as he looks at his rain soaked Bible sitting beside his favorite chair.

25 years ago Calvin built his house using concrete bricks for the walls.

He figured they would hold up during a tornado.

The walls did but the roof didn't fair as well.

"I just heard a lot of noise and I looked out and saw a wall of water," says Calvin as he describes the moments before the tornado struck.

"He said 'get up, come on, there's a storm'," says Calvin's wife Wanda.

"I grabbed her and told her to get in the closet. Went in shut that door and I fell on top of her. About that time the roof went up," says Calvin.

"The meter thing was up there and when the roof went it just all went up," says Wanda.

Ironically knick-knacks around the house went untouched.

"It blew the shop door down and knocked some windows out," says Dennis Williams who lives down the street from the Cooks.

Dennis walked outside just in time to see debris swirling around from the tornado.

"My wife and youngest daughter had just driven up and had just gone into the back door so I knew something bad was fixing to happen so I ran and got them and we got in the closet," says Dennis.

When they emerged they found the carport knocked off it's support.

But in a nearby trailer park residents weren't as lucky.

Several homes were completely destroyed.

But everyone we spoke with say they are thankful they are alive and thankful for a community that gives them a helping hand.

Amy Tatum, reporting.

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