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Crowley residents assess storm damage

CROWLEY -- Larry Turner and his wife, Margie, surveyed the pile of debris that once was their home.

The roof was completely caved in. Some trees were shredded and destroyed. Other trees were unscathed, except for pink insulation in their branches.

A chandelier gently swayed in the wind.

"We were lucky," Larry Turner said.

The Turners' home was one of at least three in Crowley destroyed in Wednesday night's severe storm. In all, 20 homes in Crowley were damaged, officials said.

"We're probably going to rebuild, if it can be rebuilt," Larry Turner said. "I guess anything can be rebuilt."

His wife leaned into him and said one thing was certain, "We're going to be together."

The Turners' house on Sharondale Drive, south of FM 1187 and east of West Cleburne Road, was one of three houses where the roofs were completely blown away, one right after the other.

The metal siding from a workshop was moved from the back to the front of the Turners' house. The car was extruding from the garage with the roof caved in on it.

Margie Turner said she and her husband were "watching American Idol just like the rest of the world," when the storm hit.

She was wearing a helmet Thursday morning lent to her by a firefighter for protection as she prepared with her husband to enter their home of five years to retrieve items.

Turner said that there was no warning on television and that no sirens were heard Wednesday night.

"Our kitchen ceiling blew through. We tried to go out through the middle of the house, through the dining room," she said. "My husband just got on top of me and we just waited" for the storm to end.

The couple went into a bedroom with their dogs and waited a while longer to make sure they were safe, she said.

The Turners' hot tub was upside down in a neighbor's yard.

"If that wasn't a tornado, I don't know what was," Margie Turner said.

Another Crowley resident, Mike Keith, described the storm as intense and loud when it hit at about 8:30 p.m..

Keith called it "a huge rain event followed by winds, 80-90-100 mph, with that typical freight train sound from a roar."

"We found the smallest, most sturdy room in the house and we got in the closet," said Keith, who has lived on Morfeld Drive in Crowley since 1989.

"It was like standing under a railroad trestle. There was the drumming, the roaring and the shaking of the house," Keith said. "All the windows rattled and I thought they were going to blow ... and it was over in 30 seconds."

The doors of a large metal building in which Keith stores his recreational vehicle were ripped off and wadded nearby.

Nobody was seriously injured in Crowley, said Randy Renois, Tarrant County fire marshal, but some residents received minor cuts and scrapes.

Renois said the affected area is about three city blocks in size and that the debris field extends a half mile or more to the south.

Lots of soggy pink insulation and pieces of roof shingles were littered everywhere in the neighborhood.

Oncor Electric Delivery is on scene in Crowley trying to restore power to the affected area.

In far south Fort Worth, a man clinging to a tree was pulled to safety by firefighters early Thursday as runoff from Wednesday night's fierce storm flooded a roadway, officials said.

The man was rescued about 2 a.m. off Oak Grove Road, which had become flooded by Deer Creek, said Lt. Kent Worley, spokesman for the Fort Worth Fire Department.

"The police helicopter helped spot him and then our swift water dive team got a boat out to him," Worley said.

Worley added that lightning sparked fires at two Fort Worth homes, but he was still gathering information about this morning.

The storms developed around 6 p.m. about 50 miles west of the Metroplex and gathered fierce momentum as they charged east.

They packed 70-mph winds, large hail, lightning and heavy rain.

Oncor was trying to restore power to 20,000 Metroplex customers this morning, most of them in Dallas County, said Jeamy Molina, spokeswoman for the company. In Crowley, damage assessments were under way as soon as the sun came up.

"We got six homes out there that have sustained some pretty major damage and a couple we would actually classify as destroyed," said Anita Foster, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. "Roofs were off and walls were caved in and there were some pretty extensive debris fields."

People displaced by the severe weather in Crowley had alternative places to stay last night, Foster said.

"It does look like Crowley is going to be the primary place this morning," Foster said at 7:30 a.m. "We will be back out in the next couple of hours to make a more detailed damage assessment. There may be more damage; it's just very hard to do a damage assessment in the dark."

Hail ranged from penny-size to baseball-size near Dublin in Erath County. Roof damage was also reported in Johnson and Hood counties.

A law enforcement officer reported seeing a funnel cloud touch down at 6:56 p.m. in southeast Palo Pinto County north of Morgan Mill, according to the National Weather Service.

"Overall, we got lucky," said Barry Gill, the county's fire marshal. "We've got power lines and barns and sheds down, but not houses."

A tornado also could have caused heavy damage reported near Lipan in Hood County, officials said.

Alan Moller, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said his crew was still gathering information on rain totals and wind speeds, and a team might break away to inspect storm damage to determine whether tornadoes actually hit some areas.

Meanwhile, he noted, areas in the Metroplex recorded between 1 and 3 inches of rain.

Check back for details.

Staff Writer Alex Branch contributed to this report.

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