Storm Causes Damage at Ennis Dairy Queen With Employees, Customers Inside

Customers, employees escape injury as strong winds damage the restaurant's roof

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The damage at the Dairy Queen near I-45 off of Ennis Avenue in Ennis further proves a storm doesn’t have to last very long to do quite a bit of damage.

Tuesday night's severe weather brought strong winds which tore off the roof's overhang, causing it to crash down on several cars.

“I was like, ‘Woah!" I had no idea what happened," said Cindy Burden, who was sitting in her car when the debris came crashing through her driver-side window.

"I came through Dairy Queen to pick up some tacos and it was starting to rain, but nothing crazy. Came around and was waiting for them to bring the delivery out and all of a sudden a really strange wind came through," described Burden. “It came and went fast, I mean it was a 30-second deal. The winds picked up and I was like 'Something really strange is going on' and then 15 seconds later it (the overhang) fell and then it (the storm) was gone.”

Reflecting back, Burden said she's glad she wasn't any closer to the building, or else the heavy metal might have fallen directly on top of her vehicle.

"I feel very fortunate, very blessed and a little unnerved," expressed Burden.

The store's owner, Joey Pratt, said he was very grateful his employees and customers were not hurt.

"The first thought was that everyone was okay because I saw the cars had been smashed a woman waiting on three tacos in the drive-thru that got hit, but everyone was fine and that was the main concern," said Pratt, whose family has owned the DQ in Ennis for decades.

He said his office manager called employees to give them a heads up about the approaching storm. Pratt said people inside the store used the walk-in cooler to seek shelter as the strong winds moved through.

“I had just gotten off the phone with the corporate manager and she said to get everyone away from the windows, but I just hung up the phone and the wind started going,” said Courtney Odell who was working at the time. She too echoed Burden's account of the storm and said everything happened so fast.

Strong winds wrecked a Dairy Queen in Ennis, south of Dallas, along I-45. Ben Russell reports with a closer look at the damage.

She said just as she was following her manager’s instructions, part of the building came crashing down.

“And the lights flickered, and it fell,” said Odell. “It was scary.”

Assistant manager Carolina Hernandez was home when she received a call from frightened employees.

“When they called me, I had to rush over here to make sure all my employees were fine first, and all the clients, but everybody was OK,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez told NBC 5 there were six employees inside at the time and fewer than 10 customers.

“When I saw it, I was in shock,” she said.

Ennis firefighters were at the scene late into the evening. They said the roof appears to be fine, but the building will need additional inspection before employees and customers are cleared to return.

As for the rest of town, there wasn't much damage.

"There were a few other minor incidents in town, some wind damage with some trees some limbs, but really this is the most of the damage we’ve had in town, at the Dairy Queen," said Chad Wester, the Ennis Fire Marshall.

"We’ve been pretty fortunate, we’ve bypassed the storms in other weeks, but this past week got us, so I consider us pretty fortunate," said Wester in regards to the limited damage.

Pratt said he had a structural engineer look at his restaurant and on Wednesday crews started removing the debris. He hopes to have the busy location off of I-45 back open by Friday.

As for Burdern, she ended up getting wings Tuesday night, given the situation. Pratt said he plans to take care of his customer.

"She did say she did not get her tacos, and so we'll be giving her a nice gift card for, quite a few tacos," said Pratt.

Pratt said the last time they has major storm damage was in 2013 when an F1 tornado damaged several buildings in Ennis

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