Residents begin rebuilding after tornadoes rip through East Texas

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East Texas families who lost homes in tornadoes begin rebuilding, Steven Romo reports. (KTRK)

The latest National Weather Service assessment indicates as many as five tornadoes tore through the northeastern part of the state Saturday, and that number could still rise.

Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency Monday for the counties of Henderson, Van Zandt and Rains.

Four people died in tornadoes in Texas on Saturday. It might have been more if not for the heroics of several men who worked frantically in an area 50 miles from Dallas to pull a man and two young children from an overturned pickup in rushing water. Cellphone video showed a man holding the limp body of an infant. The man who shot the video, Tom Mitchell, told WFAA-TV that the infant was revived. The father and second child are recovering.

PHOTOS: Tornadoes rip through Canton, Texas


In Eustace, southwest of Canton, tornadoes ripped apart several homes. Teresa Melton and her family sheltered in a laundry room and were briefly trapped before strangers freed them.

"When you get out and turn around, and look at it, you're in a state of shock. You just can't believe you're alive," Melton said. "You hear people say that but until you go through it it just doesn't register."

Melton's mother, Caroline York, got a concussion and hearing the loss. Doctors found a small rock lodged in her ear. Melton and her fiance were also scraped and bruised.

"It was the washer, I think, was up against my head and neck. I really, for just a split second, I thought it's gonna snap my neck," York said.

Just a few miles away, Kelsie Richmond and her family returned home after the storm to find their house knocked from its foundation and most of their belongings destroyed.

"If we had been in there, I think we would have been dead," Richmond said.

Richmond is set to graduate high school next month. She had been planning to start her life as an adult, but she's now helping her family try to restore the life they had just days ago.

"You think it would never happen to you in real life. But one moment you can have everything and the next, everything is gone," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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