All emergency hands are on deck Wednesday evening after a storm system passed through southern Fannin County that has left property in disarray. The storm caused a severe thunderstorm warning to be issued for the county by the National Weather Service after it formed a hail core northwest of Bonham and moved southeast. However, damage - and a storm spotter, as well as numerous eye witnesses - indicates the storm was more than just a thunderstorm, but a tornado. The National Weather Service has yet to confirm that information, which sometimes takes a day or two.
Scanner traffic indicates the severe damage starts around Randolph and moves in a south-southeasterly direction and then down across the Hunt County line. As of this typing, police and Celeste Fire Department are working an accident involving a truck pulling a cattle trailer that was reportedly blown over on U.S. Highway 69 between Celeste and Leonard. Traffic is being diverted west down the rock Hunt County Road 1143, which is lined by power lines that have been snapped in half two to three feet above the ground and are laying over. Hunt County Road 1051 that runs off east of Highway 69 is blocked by a downed tree. Numerous other county roads also have downed trees and limbs.
Right after the storm blew threw, the Leonard Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of three people trapped in a home on County Road 4851 east of Leonard. A firefighter later reported the damage he saw was heaviest in this area where a trailer home is toppled, a roof is missing, and another home demolished. The three residents that were trapped - a grandmother, her daughter and her teenage grandson - were all transported by ambulance to a hospital for treatment. Other residents in that general area have tumped over trees, debris everywhere and missing roofs.
On FM 272 east of town, residents have lost barns, road signs are laid over and farm debris litters the side of the road, along with sheet metal. One man driving the road with his daughter during the time the storm blew in reported having to pull over and take cover as it passed over. Others report hiding in their bathtubs as the roaring sound passed. Residents living west of Highway 69 between Leonard and Celeste also report damage to barns and roofs.
Four Leonard officers are on duty responding to calls non-stop and the county has a full crew helping assess the damage in the southern areas as well. Electrical crews didn't take too long getting power restored to the north part of Leonard after it was lost during the storm, but continue to work in other places to fix broken poles and downed lines. Customers in the outer areas typically serviced by Fannin County Electric Co-op initially reported power out, but whether or not it has been restored has not been confirmed. Residents in the City of Bailey report no power as well.
At this time, crews in the Randolph area - particularly County Roads 4165 and 4155 - are searching overturned structures for any possible occupants.
The clean-up with likely last late into the evening and start early tomorrow morning. But, the morning light will reveal once again how truly blessed this town is to have residents who will pitch in to help their neighbors clean up, pick up the pieces and move forward.
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