Storm victims spend Christmas cleaning up after EF-3 tornado devastates parts of Lufkin

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE)- The National Weather Service has confirmed  that  the storm which ripped through parts of Lufkin two days ago was an EF-3 tornado. It's winds were estimated  at 127 to 137 mph and it traveled roughly four miles.

Families walked through damaged neighborhoods as crews spent their Christmas repairing phone lines. The tornado took the roofs of several houses while completely destroying other homes, leaving families searching through the debris and trying to salvage whatever they can. Victims still can't believe the storm hit just two days ago.

"It's a blessing to be alive on Christmas day after what happened," said Edna Coutee.

Thomas Dudley was in his storage shed when the tornado ripped through his neighborhood.

"I went back to my storage building to lock up and everything and it just come out of nowhere."

Dudley recalled acting fast.

"I was just holding on and I had the table kinda leaning toward me to block some of it, but it, when it went, it just boom, it just shattered. It just shot glass," said Dudley.

The storm put a hole in his roof, right above his Christmas tree. Some gifts got wet, but Dudley says his family has plenty to be thankful for.

"Everybody was safe, nobody got hurt so we're really kinda enjoyin it."

Some families worked well into the evening, cleaning up debris caused by fallen trees.

"It's gonna be a Christmas that will take awhile to get over," said Rhonda Courtney.

"We still had Christmas this morning and thankfully I had someone I could stay with."

"I'm glad that I still have my presents and just wish I could find my dog," said her 12-year-old daughter Halie Courtney.

For these damaged neighborhoods, the recovery process has just begun. Some storm victims predict, it will be weeks until complete order is restored.

Fortunately, Oncor said that all homes in the Lufkin area now have electricity.  Crews will continue repairing power lines, and helping in the recovery process.

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