— By CHRISTIN COYNE
CRESSON – Alexia Hartley had a funny feeling when it became calm outside and the skies turned green Wednesday evening.
Hartley and her family got into their truck and drove to the gas station in nearby Cresson.
Just minutes after they drove away, the family’s newly purchased mobile home on Adams Circle in Ponderosa Hills was destroyed, neighbors said.
When they returned an hour later, they found their house moved off the base and facing another direction in the yard. The standing porch and a few bricks were evidence of where the building formerly stood.
A crumpled metal roof hung off one end of the building and an uprooted tree lay on the ground near a gaping hole in the wall at the other end.
“It peeled [the roof] like a tuna can,” Hartley said.
Behind the home, lumber, intact storm doors, insulation and other pieces of the building lay scattered across the backyard. The kitchen was visible through a large hole in the wall.
The family gingerly walked through the remnants of the unstable building Thursday afternoon, collecting their clothing.
“Everything’s wet,” Hartley said.
Many other neighbors were outside Thursday afternoon dealing with damage to their own property, as well.
Cresson VFD Chief Joe Huffman said the fire department searched about four homes in the Ponderosa Hills neighborhood for anyone who might be trapped or injured but residents were found to be next door with neighbors.
He estimated that three to four homes had extensive damage and 10 to 12 others had moderate damage.
Everyone that had a house that was not livable whent to stay with relatives or neighbors, Huffman said.
On Cartwright Road, Mary McNett stood outside her home Thursday as workers from Tri-County Electric Cooperative arrived to deal with downed power lines in her backyard.
McNett said she was home with her two teenage grandchildren when the weather hit.
“We had no real warning,” McNett said.
The news reported a tornado headed towards Cresson when the television went off as the house lost power, she said.
She got her 15-year-old grandson from his room and then her 14-year-old granddaughter.
About a minute or two later, as they stood in the hallway, the only place without windows in the home, the house began shaking, McNett said.
“The way the house was shaking, I could have sworn it was going to fall,” McNett said.
From California, McNett said she didn’t know what do to in the event of a tornado but her grandson had learned what to do in school.
He kept them in the hallway, took the pictures off the wall to avoid broken glass and had a first-aid kit nearby, McNett said.
Afterward, they found the roof had been ripped from her granddaughter’s room and the master bedroom so they moved and covered items in the rooms.
She also had one truck damaged.
“I think we’re pretty lucky,” McNett said, noting that the vacant home next door was more damaged than hers.
“Nobody got hurt and this can be repaired.”
Several other neighbors had exposed rooms and water damage after their roof or walls were blown away as they hid in pantries and closets inside. Most of those the Democrat spoke with did not have insurance coverage and were staying with family as they planned to patch up their homes.
A spokesman for the National Weather Service said the storm that dropped grapefruit-size hail in the Mineral Wells area produced an EF1 tornado with winds of 100 mph in Millsap before the storm moved east across the county.
The National Weather Service had not confirmed Thursday afternoon whether damage off Tin Top Road south of Weatherford and in the Cresson area was a result of tornadoes or straight-line winds.
The Democrat was unable to obtain an exact number of homes reported to be damaged in Millsap from officials, though the number was estimated Wednesday night at around half a dozen.
Firefighters also responded to the 4500 block of Tin Top Road where two outbuildings and a camper trailer that rolled two to three times had been damaged, ESD No. 6 Chief George Teague said.
A downed tree across the roadway in the area led to a wreck but no one was reported injured, according to Teague.
An attic fire believed to have started after lightning struck the roof of the home’s garage damaged a home in the 100 block of Portales Drive in the Annetta area around 8:30 Wednesday.
Departments from Aledo, Willow Park, Hudson Oaks and Silver Creek extinguished the blaze and saved the occupants’ belongings.
The home had light damage but the family was displaced because the electric meter was pulled, according to ESD No. 1 Chief Eric Vinson.
Area emergency responders also helped out Hood County.
LifeCare sent three ambulances and three crews to Hood County around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Parker County Hospital District CEO Randall Young said. They helped throughout the night and returned Thursday morning.
Cresson VFD also sent two crews to Granbury Wednesday to help with search and rescue operations overnight and two more Thursday, according to Huffman.