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May 16, 2013

At least 6 confirmed dead in Texas tornadoes

GRANBURY, Texas (AP) — A rash of tornados slammed into several small communities in North Texas overnight, leaving at least six people dead, dozens more injured and hundreds homeless. The violent spring storm scattered bodies, flattened homes and threw trailers onto cars.

In Granbury, the worst-hit city, a tornado tore through two neighborhoods around 8 p.m. Wednesday. Resident Elizabeth Tovar described the fist-sized hail that heralded the tornado's arrival, prompting her and her family to hide in their bathroom.

"We were all, like, hugging in the bathtub and that's when it started happening. I heard glass shattering and I knew my house was going," Tovar said, shaking her head. "We looked up and ... the whole ceiling was gone."

The powerful storm crushed buildings as it tore through the area, leaving some as just piles of planks and rubble. Trees and debris were scattered across yards, fences flattened.

Behind one house, a detached garage was stripped of most of its aluminum siding, the door caved in and the roof torn off. A tree behind the house was stripped of its branches and a vacant doublewide mobile home on an adjoining lot was torn apart.

Daniel and Amanda Layne initially thought they were safe sheltering under their carport. But then "it started getting worse and worse," and the couple took shelter in their bathroom, Daniel Layne said.

"The windows and the cars are gone. Both our cars are messed up. I had a big shop. Ain't a piece of it left now," Layne said with a shrug.

Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds described the devastating aftermath and the hunt for bodies in Granbury, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

"Some were found in houses. Some were found around houses," Deeds said. "There was a report that two of these people that they found were not even near their homes. So we're going to have to search the area out there."

Deeds said around midnight that 14 people were still missing but Mayor Pro Tem Nin Hulett told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday morning that he believed most residents had been accounted for.

"Our highest priority right now is to try to get the people that are out there in those communities under a shelter somewhere," Hulett said.

Deeds said about 50 people were taken to a hospital in Granbury. Yet more gathered at a local elementary school where paramedics provided on-site treatment. Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman for MedStar Mobile Healthcare, estimated that as many as 100 people were injured.

Utilities said about 20,000 homes and businesses were without power early Thursday.

Another tornado that storm spotters told the National Weather Service was a mile wide tore through Cleburne, a courthouse city of about 30,000 about 25 miles southeast of Granbury.

Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said early Thursday that no one was killed or seriously hurt, although seven people suffered minor injuries. He estimated that dozens of homes were damaged and declared a local disaster.

In one neighborhood, a trucking company trailer that had been parked on the street was picked up and dropped onto a nearby car and garage.

Another tornado hit the small town of Millsap, about 40 miles west of Fort Worth. Parker County Judge Mark Kelley said roof damage was reported to several houses and a barn was destroyed, but no injuries were reported.

Hail as large as grapefruit also pelted the area around Mineral Wells on Wednesday evening. A police dispatcher reported only minor damage.

 

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