Residents in Van Vleck clean up after tornado damaged and destroyed homes

VAN VLECK, TX (KTRK) -- Residents in Matagorda County are cleaning up after the area was hit with an EF1 tornado, clocking in at about 100 miles an hour.

Van Vleck was one of the hardest hit areas from Tuesday's storms, damaging and destroying several homes. A mother who was shielding her two young children in her trailer was injured.

It just took seconds to uproot trees, slice homes wide open and rattle the small town, but it will take much longer to piece the community back together.

Matagorda County Sheriff Skipper Osborne said his deputies will be patroling the hardest hit areas all through the night to make sure criminals don't try to steal from tornado victims.

"You're gonna have the ones that try," Sheriff Osborne said, "but with our patrols around here, our guys will catch them."

Osborne said he's been impressed to see the community come together.

Van Vleck High School FFA students helped the Ashton family clear debris from from their property.

"It's just the right thing to do," Clay Blalock said. "Guess it was how I was raised."

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Residents pitch in to help tornado clean up in Van Vleck

Red Cross teams are combing the area, going door-to-door to see if residents need water or tarps.

"It's terrible, lots of destruction, people are without water, without gas," Graham said. "We're just doing the best we can to get them back on the road."

High school student Tyriek McMarion spent Tuesday helping out.

"I helped my teacher yesterday get her RV out of her pond and pick up limbs for her yard," McMarion said.

The clean up is far greater for others.

"I grew up in that house, so it has sentimental value."

His childhood home was leveled by the tornado. The debris is now being piled up and set aside near the curb for pick up.

VIDEO: Tornado damage from SkyEye
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SkyEye's view of tornado damage across southeastern Texas.

Not too far down the street, there is more destruction where a mother saved her children from being crushed. She protected them while her trailer was sent tumbling by the 100 mph winds. The TV and couch landed on her back, fracturing several vertebrae.

Her husband said she is getting out of the hospital soon, but they don't know where they will go.

Meanwhile, volunteers have been gathering supplies and assessing the need.

"Everybody just jumped in like crazy," a resident said.

There's a donation drop zone at the Lions Club where a truck bed full of clothes, water and cleaning supplies have been donated.

"There's a lot of people that will need a lot of support, a lot of help building back up their homes," a resident said.

Yet the spirit of the town is stronger than ever.

VIDEO: Van Vleck students shelter-in-place, sing National Anthem during storm
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In Van Vleck, students gathered in the hallway of their school and sang the National Anthem as tornadoes bore down.

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