Tornado survivors share their stories, honor the lives lost

Tornado survivors share their stories, honor the lives lost
Source: KTRE Staff

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Recovery from the April 29th deadly tornadoes that ripped through East Texas continues for those that survived the storm. Many people who watched the events unfold and began to see the extent of the damage knew they wanted to help.

Jennifer Jackson, and her husband traveled to the Canton area to take food donations and help in whatever way they could.

"They had clothes yesterday, and now they don't," Jackson said. "They may have had a loved one yesterday, and now they don't."

Four people were confirmed dead from the storms, and they were identified as James Clayton Young, 39, of Alba, and Lucretia Sykes, 49, of Fort Worth. An additional two people killed were identified as 51-year old Russell "Rusty" Barlow, and 57-year- old Kenneth Hughes.

In the days that followed, the community, first responders, law enforcement officers, and volunteers started to survey the exact extent of the damage. However, what residents described as harder to survey would be the heartbreak and reality of how devastating the storms truly were.

One woman who was attending a wedding was caught in the direct path of a tornado. Her husband was injured when the storm ripped apart the barn that should have been filled with joy and happiness.

"Wind started blowing and that was it, it just took the house apart," said Reba Billingsley. "It was such a joyful day ... ended up being a day of sorrow."

She said everyone in attendance worked together to stay safe, but the scene will be one she never forgets.

The true meaning of service, and helping a neighbor in need was seen countless times through that devastating night. One watched thousands of times on the internet was a desperate water rescue, where two small children were trapped in the car near Myrtle Springs.

Strangers said risking their own lives to save someone in danger was an easy decision to make.

"I am just so glad they are here," said one of the rescuers, Korry Prox. "That's really the only thing that keeps me smiling."

The video has been shared and viewed thousands of times on the internet, and the father of the two small children said they are both on the road to recovery.

For a pair of East Texas police officers who lost everything in the storms, leaving to help those in need saved their lives. As they surveyed the damage done to their home leveled and completely lost, they said they will choose to see the good.

"You can look at all of this devastation and sit down and cry, or you can say, 'You know what - we're all safe.'" Damon Williams said. "This house was built once, and we can build it again."

As the communities affected by the storms begin to move forward on their road to recovery, they say the most important thing to them is supporting each other and honoring the lives of the four people killed in those deadly East Texas tornadoes.

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