National Weather Services Confirms Two EF2 Tornadoes Tore Through East Texas Saturday

The National Weather Service confirmed at least two tornadoes tore through East Texas on Saturday afternoon.

NWS meteorologists surveyed damage and said that an EF2 tornado tore through the town of Lindale.

"I would say totally unexpected. It was just a pop up situation, we weren't expecting that. You normally don't expect tornadoes in December," said Lindale Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jerry Garner.

Wesley Burke was outside packing his car up to leave his parents' home when the twister hit.

"Shingles were flying in the air, and that's when I realized, 'OK, this is a tornado,'" said Burke. "So we ran to the bathroom and I shut the front door behind us and as we were going to the bathroom, the front door blew open."

Winds of 120 mph snapped trees like toothpicks. While the tornado lasted only three minutes, it was on the ground for a little less than two miles — long enough to cause a lot of damage.

"A lot of people were at home at the time. And so it's just a blessing that no one was hurt," said Smith County Fire Marshal Connie Wasson.

Garner estimated four or five homes were destroyed and 35 to 40 homes sustained damage, ranging from structural damage to lost shingles.

Support from the community was immediate after the storm, as heavy rain fell.

"We were here 'til about 2 o' clock in the morning tarping all the houses on the other neighborhood," said Paul Johnson, who owns a roofing and construction business. "There was too much debris in this neighborhood for us, the police wouldn't let us in. So then we were back out here this morning with about six guys and started tarping."

Ervie Warren lost his roof and fence, but like most of his neighors, he's thankful there were no injuries.

"I don't worry about the material things, it's the fact that no one got hurt, and we can always get something replaced," said Warren.

"Well it is a miracle that no one was hurt yes, I can't emphasize enough how grateful we are that no one sustained any injuries," said Garner.

Less than an hour later, the NWS said another EF2 tornado hit north of Lindale near the Franklin County town of Purley.

The tornado's path was more than five miles long and 775 yards wide. The twister, with peak winds of 115-125 mph, was on the ground for 10 minutes.

Two people were inside a mobile home that was badly damaged according to Franklin County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Chris Mars. There was no word on their conditions.

The NWS survey team found four mobile homes were destroyed and more than 20 structures were damaged -- four had major damage.

Lindale is nearly 90 miles southeast of Dallas, while Purley is 105 miles northeast of Dallas.

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