The American Red Cross has been actively working in the counties affected by tornadoes across North Texas since the first community was impacted on Saturday, December 26. In the first few days of the response, teams of Red Crossers went out into the field to conduct damage assessments, speak with the disaster victims and also guide them toward the relief services available to them. This story comes from two neighboring families out of Ellis County:
By Anjie Coplin, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
John Garcia, his wife Cathy and 10 foster children, along with their son, his wife and grandchildren, 17 people in total, took shelter in a small hallway closet as a tornado tore through their Waxahachie neighborhood on December 26.
There are no tornado sirens in the neighborhood, so John relied on the local CBS weather reports. When meteorologist Larry Mowry told the people in his geographic area to seek shelter immediately, John grabbed his family and squeezed himself and his 16 family members into a small closet in the middle of the house.
As the closet door closed, a loud rumbling sound could be heard, along with lots of banging and breaking glass. John and his son clung to the door handle, determined to keep it closed. “If (Larry) Mowry hadn’t said to take shelter, I don’t know what would have happened to my family.”
When the Garcias emerged from the tight, cramped space, they found glass scattered across the hallway floor and bedroom doors blown of their hinges with the screws still attached. The house sustained damage such as holes in the roof, water damage and broken windows, but many of the sentimental contents such as pictures and trinkets seemed to be salvageable.
“It was crazy, but it will be alright,” John concluded.
The Garcias’ neighbors, the Kecks, took shelter during the tornado in their laundry room. There were five in total – the mother, father, daughter and two grandparents. The Keck’s son, Hunter, was working at a fast food restaurant at the time. He received a frantic call from his mom shortly after the storm had passed and rushed home only to find that it had been completely destroyed. Miraculously, all of Hunter’s family members were pulled from the debris by neighbors and only sustained minor bumps and bruises. As Hunter surveyed the debris, he said, “You look at this house and wonder how anyone survived.”
After the Garcias and the Kecks shared their stories, Red Cross volunteers shared information with them about where to find resources nearby and how to get started on the road to recovery.
Red Cross representatives are currently working in the tornado-ravaged neighborhoods, talking to the victims and offering assistance. If you or someone you know needs help from the Red Cross, please call us at 1-800-RED-CROSS.