Residents assessing damage after Tuesday's severe thunderstorms

November 9, 2011 10:03:10 AM PST
A big cleanup job is underway in the Kingwood and Humble areas after a reported tornado moved through the area on Tuesday.

There were no reported injuries, but some homes and a school were damaged. Some residents had dramatic stories to tell Eyewitness News.

The damage and the destruction is still shocking for Kay Higgins. Less than 24 hours ago, she was riding out a tornado alone inside her daughter's Kingwood house.

"I heard glass breaking. I heard things hitting our windows and I heard things hitting our house," Higgins said.

She was visiting from Mississippi and says she had just rushed inside the house as the wind continued whipping debris around.

"I walked over here and I said maybe I should take cover, so of course I just squatted down here (in the kitchen)," she said.

But as trees continued to snap and the winds continued to howl, she ran for another hiding place.

"It was the first room I saw and I opened the pantry and as you see that's not a real safe place, but the power was out so I did get in here, shut the door and hollered for the dogs to come in. It was dark like that," said Higgins.

She said within three minutes, what's being described as a weak tornado had blown over and blown out four windows in her daughter's house, scattering debris and glass all over her granddaughter's room.

Outside the house, the damage was devastating. A 12-year-old neighbor described how he and others were in a clear path of the storm.

"Trees everywhere, shingles on the ground, parts of people's roof falling off -- it's just crazy," said Paul Higdon.

Residents are now pulling together to cleanup, and for many of them, despite the terrifying tornado, they are thankful.

"God was watching out for us," said Higgins.

The cleanup work started on Tuesday evening and it continues Wednesday as residents hope to get back to normal.

Severe thunderstorms produce high winds, damage on Tuesday

The National Weather Service says a funnel cloud was sighted Tuesday afternoon near Atascocita and severe thunderstorms with possible rotation moved through areas near Humble and Kingwood.

Several schools in the Humble area, including Willow Creek Elementary, have reported damage.

There is plenty of tree damage around the school and the power is out at the building, but the Houston Fire Department says the building is fine and there were no reports of injuries.

Shortly before 2pm, there were reports of a tornado on the ground near the Humble and Kingwood areas.

Humble ISD said several school campuses were affected including Riverwood Middle and Shadow Forest Elementary, but Willow Creek Elementary apparently got the worst. Power wass out at some of the schools. The kids were there, but there were no reports of injures. There was no damage at Creekwood Middle.

"We went under a table, so we ducked our heads," a student told Eyewitness News.

"I thought it was the garbage man outside and I heard some loud noises, but my block wasn't very damaged at all. We didn't have any branches down, until I got closer over here and I noticed that all the branches were down," said one resident.

Shortly after 2:30pm, Humble ISD told parents they could pick up their kids early at Willow Ceeek, Riverwood, Shadow Forest and Deerwood.

In Kingwood, many homeowners returned home to discover damage to their homes. There were lots downed trees and branches, fences destroyed, shingles ripped from rooftops, broken glass, even a trampoline blown onto a rooftop. Most of damage seems to be minor right now.

There were some residents who were actually home at the time of the storm and told us they heard it coming through and they decided to take cover.

"I'd never been through something like that... and it took me a second. I thought it was just kind of crazy. But luckily none of our people are hurt," said resident Soopeen Chen.

Students who were in class at the time went to their storm shelter area to take cover as the storm blew through.

There were no reports of any injuries.

There was also some flooding in Kingwood, including outside St. Martha Catholic School. An ABC13 viewer sent in photos of a flooded driveway parents use to pick up and drop their kids. We're told the school lost power during the storm and sent an alert to parents by phone, assuring parents that all the students were safe and moved away from any windows.

Timeline of warnings, watches issued in Houston area

By 8:30pm, NWS expired all tornado warnings and watches for the ABC13 viewing area.

At 5:41pm, NWS doppler radar continued to indicate several circulations within the storms across the northern third of Liberty County. The NWS says these circulations are not as strong as they earlier were, but do have the potential to rapidly intensify again. At this time, the NWS says there are circulations within storms near Tarkington Prairie and Romayor.

At 5:06pm, NWS doppler radar indicated two severe thunderstorms each capable of producing a tornado. The first one was located near Splendora. A second circulation was noted five miles south of Cleveland. Both storms are moving northeast at 35 mph.

At 5:01pm, NWS doppler radar continued to indicate a tornado. This tornado was located nine miles southwest of Romayor, or seven miles northeast of Cleveland, moving northeast at 20 mph. The tornado will otherwise remain over mainly rural areas of the indicated counties.

At 4:32pm, the NWS says doppler radar indicated a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado. This tornado was located five miles southwest of moss hill, moving northeast at 30 mph. The tornado is on a track toward Moss Hill.

At 4:27pm, the NWS says doppler radar indicated a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado, located near north Cleveland, moving northeast at 25mph. Locations in the tornado warning include but are not limited to Tarkington Prairie, Romayor, Shepherd and Cleveland.

The agency says at 3:06pm, doppler radar continued to indicate a tornado, now located near Moss Hill, or 10 miles southwest of Thicket, moving northeast at 25 mph. The tornado will otherwise remain over mainly rural areas of Liberty Co. In addition to the tornado, damaging winds of 60 mph and quarter-sized hail are likely.

At 2:40pm, doppler radar indicated a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado located near Dayton Lakes, moving east/northeast at 25 mph. At around 2:22pm, radar indicated a tornado about six miles northwest of Kenefick or eight miles northwest of Dayton, moving northeast at 25 mph. Shortly before 2pm, radar observed a tornado six miles south of Plum Grove, moving NE at 20mph. At 1:42pm, the NWS two miles east northeast of Kingwood, over extreme northern Lake Houston, moving northeast at 25 mph.

Precautionary/preparedness actions for tornadoes:

  • The safest place to be during a tornado is in the interior hallway or a room such as a closet on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Use blankets or pillows to cover your body and always stay away from windows.
  • If you are inside a mobile home or vehicle. evacuate them immediately and seek shelter inside a sturdy building. As a last resort, seek shelter in a culvert, ditch or low spot and cover your head with your hands.
  • Please report severe weather to the county sheriff, local police, or department of public safety and ask them to relay your report to the National Weather Service.

If you caught photos or video of this event, you can upload them at iWitness.abc13.com or email them to news@abc13.com.

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