Easton residents clean up after tornado uproots trees, damages houses

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EASTON — Ebbie Lover said she was driving home Sunday along FM 2906 into Easton when a tornado appeared, uprooting trees and swirling debris around in its path.

“As I was coming along this road, debris and stuff was flying around me, and it was just like a big roar,” Lover said Tuesday as she cleaned up sticks and debris from her backyard. “I could barely get home — it was raining so hard, you could just see stuff in motion. Everything was falling, I could see all the trees just cracking.”

Lover’s house was narrowly missed by falling trees after an EF-1 tornado touched down 2 miles west of Easton along FM 2906, according to the National Weather Service.

The tornado continued east along FM 2906, knocking down several trees in Easton and even more trees along CR 2210 heading east out of the town, the weather service said.

Lover said one of the oldest trees in Easton toppled onto Francis Street, the street that runs in front of her house, and blocked the entire roadway.

“That’s Ol’ Betsy,” she said, pointing to the tree that fell from her front yard. “Ol’ Betsy’s … well over 100 years old.”

Lover said she waited out the storm in her car and parked as close to her garage as possible as the tornado passed through.

“I couldn’t get the garage door open, and debris was just flying over the roof,” she said. “I’ve picked it all up now, but my yard was just a mess.”

Lover’s neighbor, Velma Timberlake, said she was glad she was at church when the tornado struck early Sunday evening, because a large limb fell on the back patio of her house while she was gone.

“If I’d have been here, I would have had another heart attack,” she said. “It tore my patio up. But I just thank God it didn’t hit me — I can get another patio cover. … It’s all just material things. I just thank God I’m here.”

The tree limb crushed the roof covering the outdoor patio along with all the furniture underneath it, leaving bent lawn chairs peeking out from under the pile of leaves and aluminum.

Timberlake said her back door was completely jammed shut and would need to be replaced.

“I ain’t never seen anything like this,” she said, “and I’m 81 years old!”

Gregg County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Joshua Tubb said emergency crews were assessing damage Tuesday in Easton and the surrounding areas, including Lake Cherokee, Kilgore and Lakeport.

“We’ve had damage reported all over Gregg County,” Tubb said. “From Kilgore to Easton to Lake Cherokee to North Longview; literally, we’ve got places all over Gregg County that have had storm damage reports.”

Mark Moore, Gregg County emergency management coordinator, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Ike and Earnestine Maddox were waiting patiently Tuesday morning for power to be restored at their home on FM 2906 just west of Easton.

Ike Maddox was home alone Sunday evening when the storm hit.

He said all he could hear at first was rain, but then he heard a loud noise coming from the garage.

“I went into the kitchen to get something to eat,” he said. “I heard something out in the garage, and I went out in the garage to see what was going on, and the wind was blowing water through the garage door. I couldn’t figure out why, but I went and looked and saw that a tree had fallen on the truck outside.”

His pickup and part of the couple’s garage was crushed by a tree. The tree also took out a power line running directly to their home.

“We’re going to get up here in a few minutes and go by the insurance office and talk to them and see when they can get somebody out here,” Ike Maddox said Tuesday morning. “I don’t think it’s damaged the house a whole lot. … The only thing we don’t have is lights and telephone.”

Rufus Starling said he was inside his house on Main Street when a tree fell in his backyard, part of it splitting and damaging the roof over his kitchen.

“It didn’t go all the way through,” he said. “It landed on top, but it’s damaged pretty good.”

Starling said he was born and raised in Easton and hadn’t ever seen anything like the storm that passed through Sunday.

“It scared me pretty good, too,” Starling said. “Because that was the first time we ever had anything like that come on down through here. It sounded like a freight train — and that’s when I got nervous.”

As of almost noon Tuesday, many Easton residents remained without power, though Lover and Timberlake said their power had been restored by 5 p.m. Monday

“It was scary,” Lover said. “But I’m just glad we’re OK.”

by Clare McCarthy
May 30, 2017

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Kyrie Wagner