'Traumatic day': Residents return to tornado-devastated neighborhood

Saturday, May 18, 2013 - 3:04pm

Scores of people stood outside a north Texas church Saturday morning, waiting to be escorted to their neighborhood for the first time since tornadoes devastated it three days earlier.

They weren't going to like what they were about to see, Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds told reporters.

"This is going to be a traumatic day for the residents," Deeds said. " ... We have clergy (going to the neighborhood with the residents) because it's going to be a traumatic time when they see their property."

At least 16 tornadoes hit Texas on Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service. Six people were killed in the Rancho Brazos neighborhood of Granbury, about 30 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

A survey team for the National Weather Service concluded that the tornado that descended on this neighborhood was an EF4 -- the second-most severe classification on a scale of zero to five.

Three people were taken to a nearby hospital, and 13 others were taken to hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, authorities have said.

Of the 110 houses that stood in Rancho Brazos on Wednesday afternoon, 58 were damaged or destroyed, said Mario Flores, director of disaster-response field operations for Habitat for Humanity, which built 61 homes there.

The neighborhood's estimated 250-300 residents were prohibited from returning until Saturday, because authorities needed to clear debris, Deeds said. Starting Saturday, residents would be able to visit the site on a limited basis -- from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. -- to collect belongings.

With no water or electric service in the neighborhood, and generally unsafe conditions, no one is allowed yet to resume living there, even in undamaged buildings, Deeds said.

"We've got people on scene that are going to help them box things up and get some valuables out of there that they need today," Deeds said.

The Rancho Brazos residents had to obtain permits before being escorted to the neighborhood. Among those waiting in line was a 45-year-old woman who says she and her five children were temporarily trapped in the rubble of their home.

Family members, who gave only their last name -- Rodriguez -- said that the woman's husband dug them out of the debris. They said that they are staying with friends, and have only the clothes on their backs.

"Our neighborhood looked like it had gone through a terrorist attack," the woman said.


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