COMMENTARY | Around 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the first tornado sirens in North Texas started alerting citizens of Joshua to take cover. The National Weather Service in Fort Worth estimates up to 12 tornadoes touched down during a period of five hours, in up to nine North Texas cities, spanning five counties. Damage was widespread, and remarkably as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, no deaths have been reported.
I had the opportunity to discuss some of the details of the South Arlington tornado with Professor D. Wheat of The University of Texas at Arlington. Wheat lives along the Interstate 20 corridor, putting him and his home in the direct path of the tornado that touched down in Arlington around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
In our discussion, Wheat explained the warning siren at the edge of his property completely drowned out the noise the tornado was making. He never heard the train sound, so many people associate with tornadoes. Wheat and his wife Kelli took shelter under the staircase in their home, until they felt the tornado had passed.
Wheat described his experience in this way, “Everything was going in slow motion, it seemed as if we were watching the news happening around us. The kind of thing you watch on the news, but never want to be involved with.” When I asked if they were scared, Wheat replied, “Things were more surreal than scary, like something from a movie.”
Outside afterward, they could still see debris flying through the air, Wheat described the damage to me in this way. “Our house was basically undamaged outside of losing a tree, some of our neighbors were not so lucky, one lost part of the roof, and huge trees were uprooted everywhere.” He also described how some entire wooden fence panels were up in trees, some trees were up on roofs, and BBQ grills were just gone, nowhere to be found.
Wheat also described how the damage was hit or miss, up and down the street. Some houses went completely untouched, while others had extreme damage. The home of Wheat’s father-in-law had a board from a neighbor’s home, picked up and projected like a dart, through the wall and into the living-room.
With one dozen tornadoes in such a short period of time, in a five county area, North Texans should count their blessings that no one was killed. Yes, it will take weeks, if not months to repair what was destroyed in five short hours. Roofers, builders, tree service companies, and clean up crews will reap the benefits from Mother Nature’s mischief. The bright side of it all, one industry will not have a boom in business: North Texas funeral homes.