NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Garrison area in Nacogdoches and Rusk Counties received extensive damage around 9 p.m. Thursday evening.
Your KTRE East Texas News 9 surveyed that E-F 2 tornado damage Friday.
In the wake of the strong storms that blew through Deep East Texas Thursday night, a National Weather Service crew surveyed weather-related damage in north Nacogdoches and southern Rusk counties and confirmed that the damage they saw was from an EF-2 tornado, with estimated winds on the order of 111-135 mph.
The crew from the NWS office in Shreveport, Louisiana, started looking at damage in the Garrison area, northern Nacogdoches County, and southern Rusk County Friday morning.
According to the survey team, the EF2 tornado touched down southwest of Garrison along Highway 59, before moving through downtown Garrison. Several businesses along Highway 59 corridor sustained roof damage, including what had once been a dentist office, a bank, and what appeared to be an auto repair shop. The dentist office was particularly hard hit, which was one of the first damage indicators to rate this tornado an EF-2. The auto shop sustained significant roof damage, which consisted of outer cinder block walls collapsing, which was another damage indicator to rank this an EF-2.
According to their findings, a secondary area of EF2 damage occurred in the southeast corner of Rusk County along Highway 59, where the tornado tore through a chicken farm, destroying one chicken coop with all chickens lost and damaging 5 others. The tornado also snapped several power poles in this area.
The tornado stayed on the ground and tracked a little over four-and-a-half miles before it lifted just beyond County Road 4759, which is about four miles to the west-southwest of Timpson.
Several homes sustained roof damage from snapped or uprooted trees, and at least 20 outbuildings were damaged or destroyed.
The most destructive tornado damage happened north of Garrison at a cattle and poultry operation owned by Lane Barton who said Friday ...
"Fortunately, feel like it could have been worse," Barton said.
One of Barton's poultry houses was totaled. The winds did extensive damage to five others. Roofing was blown off outbuildings. Equipment sheds crumbled. Heavy cargo trailers were tossed about.
At one point, 275 head of cattle were moved from pens during the kind of storm that brings Rusk County storm spotter Michael Searcy out in the weather.
"A lot of lightning," Searcy said. Some low cloud structures."
Yards away is the family home. Barton and his wife knew immediately they were in a tornado.
"We took shelter in the home. Fortunately, we're fine," Barton said. "My wife and I after it passed were just fortunate, we felt like. And blessed."
This was the first stop for the National Weather Service. When they accessed the weather damage they knew exactly what had happened.
Next door, the Austin Bank and the Garrison Dental Clinic office lost roofs. Downed trees were found miles around by Nacogdoches County road administrator Doyle Williams.
"Well, we have about 25, 26 roads with trees on them right now," Williams said.
Trees were found across County Road 289 from one end to the other.
"My daughter who lives next to me called because she got an alert over her phone and she was trying to get to my house, but a tree got down in the road, and she couldn't make it," said Ted Corley, a property owner.
"The ground's rumbling," said 13-year-old Sean Edwards. "I come out here to check with our flash lights and trees and everything were down."
"We was running to get into the bathroom, and we never made it," said Dora Hinnigan, a Garrison resident. "Then it was over."
It gave time for ranchers to contemplate, why do trees always fall on fences, while cattle enjoy easy reach to tender vegetation? This weekend, property owners will add heavy limbs to old brush piles.
Barton had his decision made by this morning. He'll persevere.
"Yes, yes. I believe we're going to try to stay right here and continue as we were," Barton said.
In front of the Barton ranch, lines were across U.S. Highway 59 during the height of the storm. The roadway was shut down for a period of time.
Other parts of Deep East Texas received storm damage as well.
Further north, there was another tornado that touched down in the town of Minden, which is about seven miles north of Mount Enterprise in southern Rusk county. The damage sustained in this tornado was rated and EF-1, as it touched down along FM 1798 East just east of FM 95.
In Crockett, the TSC sign was damaged. In addition, authorities said five small portable buildings near the corner of Loop 287 and Loop were blown into a field. A tree hit a house in Crockett, but the woman inside was not injured.
The Crockett area also suffered power outages. As of 9 p.m. Thursday an Oncor spokesperson said there were 12 outages and 62 customers without power.