East Texas community helps nursing home residents after storm ca - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas community helps nursing home residents after storm causes evacuation

A tree fell and broke a natural gas line, causing evacuations. (Source: KLTV Staff) A tree fell and broke a natural gas line, causing evacuations. (Source: KLTV Staff)
DAINGERFIELD, TX (KLTV) -

Employees at an East Texas nursing home say a pop-up storm Friday evening caused an emergency situation. 

Residents at Windsor Place Nursing Center in Daingerfield were evacuated to a high school gym after a tree fell and broke a natural gas line. The community worked together to keep the nursing home residents safe.

Trees were snapped, roofs were torn off and power lines fell, knocking out power for hours. The Daingerfield-Gilmer football game was moved to Gilmer.

"Around 3:15, electricity went out so then we were just ruining on generator power which is limited in what it can do," says Windsor Place owner Tim Thornton.

The brief storm had knocked over a tree about 300 yards west of the nursing center. The tree fell on a natural gas line, puncturing the line, and gas began to spew from the leak.

"It was like a jet roaring. It was so loud, almost hurt your ears," Thornton says.

The situation then became urgent.

"We assessed the situation, and felt that it was best that we enact an evacuation of the nursing center and the surrounding neighborhood," says Daingerfield Deputy Fire Chief Rocky Tollison.

"Urgency would probably be an understatement. Then, we were told to get them out of Daingerfield," says Thornton.

Many people were involved in the process to move 65 patients to safer locations.

"There were ambulances, church buses, school buses. It was a mass effort. It was chaotic, but I tell our staff really pulled together. Hughes Springs High School helped us out. We put 58 residents in our high school gym, and we put 5 residents in our other facility. People that I didn't even know were coming up and asking, 'what can I do,'" says Thornton.

Everyone was safely moved out.

"It's Friday night football in East Texas, but in this case it was a higher need," Tollison says.

The last resident of Windsor Place returned at around noon today after the natural gas line was fixed and the buildings power was turned back on.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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