FIRST PERSON | CLEBURNE, Texas -- Shortly after putting my three small children to sleep on Wednesday night, the sound of tornado sirens pierced through the relative quiet of our comfortable home. Sure, the night had already been punctuated with intense lightning and thunder, but we felt safe in our home just southwest of Fort Work.
At about 8:30 p.m., I came downstairs to find my husband watching the local news channel. They had taken over regularly scheduled programming to report on the strong storms roaring through the region. It seemed to us, after watching the weather radar, that the most intense storms had already come through Granbury, killing at least six people, and were directed straight at our small town.
Then the weather anchor directed residents in and around Cleburne to take immediate shelter. The tornado sirens outside began to sound. I grabbed my children, ages 6, 4, and 1, out of their beds and brought them to our coat closet. Weather experts tell us to take shelter in the lowest part of the house, in an interior room, away from walls and windows. Our only choice was the cramped closet.
There we sat, four people, alongside a 120-pound Labrador retriever and a frightened cat, listening to the storm outside and the reports from the television not 20 feet away. We were able to keep in touch with our friends and family with my phone, hearing reports of roofs being ripped off houses and homes being destroyed.
When we learned the mile-wide tornado had moved past, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief. Then we found it had turned around and was heading for us again.
I've never clutched my children or prayed so hard in my life.
Luckily, the tornado missed us and we never even lost power. However, other Cleburne residents were not as lucky. As many as two dozen homes were destroyed, thousands are still without power, and hundreds of homes have been damaged. Mayor Scott Cain declared a disaster area early this morning, and classes were canceled for the district at least until Friday.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Cleburne Conference Center. Donations can be made at the Red Cross website, www.redcross.org. Richard Diano of the Red Cross stated that money or blood would be the best donations until the damage has been fully assessed.
- Natural Phenomena
- Nature & Environment
- tornado sirens