Tornado causes severe damage to parts of Lufkin

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Severe storms ripped through parts of East Texas Wednesday evening. Some Lufkin neighborhoods sustained extensive damage from a possible tornado.

Among them is the Lufkin VFW, which is now gone. The damage comes right after 10,000 dollars worth of recent tile work. A check for the construction was written Wednesday, before the storm hit.

One resident living near Gipson Funeral Home on Chestnut Street even reported seeing caskets in his backyard.

Jakoya Grimes and her children were happy to have made it safely out of their Lufkin apartment, before their entire roof collapsed. "I looked up and I just saw the light from outside and I had my girls come and sit by the door, and within minutes the entire roof caved in," said Grimes, who is now staying with family members.

Jennifer Mays watched the tornado touch down right outside Stephens Court Apartments. She described it as "massive." She said, "I couldn't believe it was so powerful to the point that it just opened up my door."

Next door, owners sifted through what remained of their welding business, part of Lufkin for 25 years. Max's Welding Shop on Denman Avenue was completely destroyed.

Owners said they can't blame God for the severe weather, and that fortunately another shop behind the building stands untouched by the storm.

"I think we're going to be able to salvage some of our equipment. I think we're going to be alright," said co-owner Betty Purgahn.

Cheddars employees also witnessed a tornado touch down in the middle of the Olive Garden parking lot. "I heard a bunch of commotion and they were talking about the patio chairs were nearly about to hit some cars so we ran to try to help," said Cheddars employee Brad Barrow.

According to witnesses, other than damaging a few of the vehicles parked in the Olive Garden parking lot, the tornado did not affect any of the buildings. The Department of Public Safety reported that the tornado lifted back up, and did not cause any injuries.

Utility crews were also working to remedy power outages caused by toppled power poles. Thursday morning, thousands of residents were without power. An Oncor spokesperson said approximately 2,500 customers were without power in the Lufkin area.

So far no severe injuries have been reported.

For the latest severe weather information and StormTracker Interactive Radar, visit the East Texas Weather Page. Also, tune in to the Good Morning East Texas, MidDay at 11:30, or the East Texas News at 5, 6, & 10 on KTRE-TV.

If you have captured video or pictures of storm damage where you live, please share it with all of East Texas, through See It, Snap It, Send It.

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