Tornado Destroys Homes, Spares East Texans' Lives - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/7/03 - Wood County

Tornado Destroys Homes, Spares East Texans' Lives

The tornado first touched down in Wood County near Mineola shortly before midnight Tuesday scattering people's belongings for miles. But that was just the beginning. The tornado, classified Wednesday afternoon as an F-2 on the Fujita scale, stayed on the ground continuously for the next hour and a half.

Wood County emergency crews are confirming two homes were destroyed, 11 badly damaged and 6 had minor damage from the storm. After leaving Mineola, the twister made its way east, down Highway 49. Its most devastating mark was left about 5 miles down the road in the Pine Mills area. A family of 5 can't believe they made it out of their shredded mobile home alive. Kevin Brittan says his home was picked up by the wind, thrown on its side and slammed upright again.

"I have a little girl that is four and a boy that is 7," says Kevin Brittan. "I grabbed them and just put them in the middle and grabbed both mattresses and when it picked us up both mattresses came with me and it slammed us against the wall."

Just across the street, Chris Hagan's roof was torn off. They lost a work shed, and their daughter was blanketed in sheetrock while she slept.

"We just woke up to the sound of hail hitting the house real hard," says Chris Hagan. "And by the time we got up, the house started coming apart so we got in the middle hall."

Looking back, both families say the tornado happened so fast, all they could do was ride the storm out.

The Red Cross is working with the families who are homeless following the tornado. Most who we talked to are staying with relatives until they're able to rebuild. Fortunately, only 5 minor injuries were reported.

Dana Dixon Reporting. 

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