Tornadoes Saturday Afternoon Cause Damage in Smith County

Major damage and injuries also reported in Franklin County

Powerful thunderstorms in East Texas have caused some damage and injured at least two residents of a badly damaged home.

The storms Saturday afternoon brought strong winds and reports of tornadoes.

Chief Deputy Chris Mars of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department said the shattered house where the two were injured is north of Winnsboro, about 95 miles northeast of Dallas. There was no immediate word on their condition.

About 40 miles to the south, in Lindale, a storm damaged about 50 homes. Deputy Smith County Fire Marshal Eric Lowry said six had major damage.

"It's pretty crazy but it definitely could have been worse," said Kylie Cook.

Jason Lindley

The areas were under tornado warnings at the time of the damage.

Witnesses shot video with cell phones as the unusual December twister struck Smith County.

Jason Lindley captured the funnel dropping from the sky from a gas station on Highway 69.

Jason Lindley caught a tornado in Lindale on camera, he was at a Valero off Highway 69.

Melissa Malone saw it too.

"We saw these clouds and these little tornadoes that were shooting down and then one hit the ground. We saw it hit the ground," said Malone. "From there we called 911 and immediately alerted them and the sirens started going off."

State troopers surveyed the damage and checked on victims as they battled heavy rain to clean up debris and patch up damaged roofs in two subdivisions.

One family got home just ten minutes after the twister hit. Their roof was damaged when an old tree in the front yard snapped, crashing into a front window.

The American Red Cross teams that cover East Texas set up a shelter at the First United Methodist Church and people stopped by to donate food leftover from a Christmas party.

No injuries were reported, but Mayor Robert Nelson issued a disaster declaration for the city.

"Obviously electricity is all out. It's going to be a long process cleaning up," said Jeremy Pilkinton.

The mayor urged people to avoid the damage area. Lindale is about 90 miles southeast of Dallas along Interstate 20.  

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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