Van Tornado: A view from above - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Van Tornado: A view from above

One of many damaged houses in Van. One of many damaged houses in Van.
VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - From the ground it's difficult to comprehend the extent of the damage in and around Van so we went up in Chopper 7 to give us a better look at the storm's path.

Not long after getting in the air it was hard to miss the standing water. Flood plains were living up to their name, and water was encroaching on a house.

The path of destruction started near the Edom area where a metal shed looked as if it had burst from inside. About a mile away a building had part of its metal roof torn off. Linemen were in bucket trucks trying to restore power.

Most of the roof was ripped off this farm house, with damage to some of the out buildings.

All along the path, which cut through many fields, trees were down and there was the ever-present standing water. High power overhead electrical transmission lines were damaged by the winds. Several were being supported by the lines themselves, and one was completely on the ground.

Flying over wooded areas it was easy to follow the path of snapped trees which looked to be lying in different directions. Moving over I-20 trees were knocked down along a creek, and several buildings damaged at a water treatment plant outside of Van.

Now near Van we spotted a rectangular patch of dirt where a mobile home and a smaller building next to it once stood. The debris path spread across a field and into a patch of nearby woods where one of its walls landed nearly intact about two hundred yards away.

Nearby another mobile home was knocked off its blocks and pushed ten yards away, its walls gone, and its roof collapsed.

Now when we first got to Van it was overwhelming the highly concentrated damage and we went ahead and flew the path as best we could, and it looks like it ran about fifteen miles from what we could see. The absolute worst of it was in Van.

Below, another home was completely destroyed, and an oil field business suffered damage to buildings. The tornado turned over work over rigs weighing around 100,000 pounds each.

Some mobile homes were untouched while others had their roofs torn off or were completely demolished. Looking at the Google satellite view you can really see the difference after the storm hit with six structures destroyed on the left side of the street. Across Main street many buildings at Van schools were damaged. One roof was partially torn off and collapsed.

The gymnasium roof had several holes that let in so much water it still looked more like a swimming pool than a basketball court many hours after the rain stopped. A building near the ball park was rubble, and moving north into a residential area home after home were damaged, some beyond repair.

But mobile homes seemed to be the most easily blown apart and thrown around by the EF-3 Tornado.

Heading north, following the downed trees more homes are damaged, and finally an auto shop that was half torn up by the winds.

As we take a look at a man who is inspecting the Van water tower, residents realize there is little they can do but try to cover what's left of their roofs with tarps and pray for a break with the weather.

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