Howard County Resident Protects Family In Closet During Tornado-Like Weather

Howard County Resident Protects Family In Closet During Tornado-Like Weather
By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

HOWARD COUNTY - Some West Texans had a big mess to deal with on Tuesday: Damage from all those crazy storms on Monday. One of the hardest hit areas was Howard County. 

Heavy winds, golf ball sized hail, flash flooding and lightning is what hit Howard County on Monday evening. The National Weather Service reports a tornado touched down at I-20 near Coahoma. The volunteer fire department was out from the first raindrop until two in the morning.

"We're out there in harm's way without taking cover to make sure we get the signals out and warn the citizens," Tommy Sullivan, Chief of the Howard County Volunteer Fire Department, said.

Jose Cruz and his family were cooking dinner in a home just off Highway 350 when the heavy storm approached.

"The loud hail started coming and the strong winds. I told my wife, 'Look at those clouds they're spinning, it looks bad. I think it's a tornado,'" Cruz said.

As his family ran to the closet, he ran outside to get their belongings.

"The winds yanked the grill right out of my hands and threw it to the other side of the house. That's how I knew the situation was serious. So I went inside and I tried to shut the door but I couldn't. The tornado's wind wouldn't let me. It broke my window," Cruz said.

Just minutes later, the storm would rip Jose's roof right off his home.

"It scared me and I went into the closet where my wife and my daughter were screaming. I tried to calm them but even I was scared," Cruz said.

An extreme example of the aftermath from Monday night's severe weather is a pumpjack turned completely on its side, very close to Jose's home. If you're from this side of the country, you know very well these things can weigh at least 20 tons.

Trees fell onto houses, more roofs were ripped from their homes like band-aids and tossed half a mile away. At least 26 major power lines were knocked down. 30 trucks from Sharyland Utilities began repairs around 8 p.m. Monday night. Other utility polls were snapped in half.

"You never know here in West Texas when it's gonna get bad. You need to be prepared for it," Sullivan said.