Ground zero of Onalaska tornado hit by 140 mph winds

POLK COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Not one home in the Paradise Acres community on Lake Livingston was left unscathed by the tornado that hit Polk County Wednesday evening.

The tornado, preliminarily believed to be an EF-3, which is defined as having sustained winds between 136 and 165 mph, tore through communities near Onalaska around 6:15 p.m.

Charles Koenig was sitting in his living room when he says hail, the size of a football, came crashing through his glass door. As he was running to the back of the house for safety, the wind flung him into the wall.

"I think I was lucky. I think everyone out there walking today is lucky because this thing hit and was gone before you knew it was even here," said the longtime lake resident.

The National Weather Service believes the strongest winds of the tornado hit Paradise Acres. They whipped as fast as 140 mph and tore off his second story. His daughter came as fast as she could.

"It (the house) was my grandparents' house. I spent my summers here and it's hard to see it, but it's a building. It can be repaired, with time and my dad's okay. That right there is all that matters right now," said Cindy Marsalia.

In Polk County, three people were killed and more than 30 people were injured by the tornado that also destroyed almost 50 homes and damaged 300 more. Food and water distribution is being coordinated by the Polk County Office of Emergency Management. The American Red Cross is working to find shelter for those who have nowhere to go.

"We start again, like everyone else," Marsalia said. "We put one foot in front of the other and corona, be damned. This is more realistic now."

Follow Jessica Willey on Facebook and Twitter.
Related topics:
polk countytornado
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.