Tornado hits hard in rural Van Zandt County

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by STEVE STOLER / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on January 21, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 22 at 12:52 AM

SAND FLAT, Texas — This Van Zandt County community 14 miles northeast of Canton was one of the hardest hit by Wednesday's tornado.

Of the 50 houses and businesses that were damaged or destroyed in the county, 30 of them were in Sand Flat.

Jerral Dickerson spent his entire life in this rural area. His two brothers live next door. All three of them lost their homes in the storm.

"It’s going to be extremely difficult because we had no insurance," he said.

Dickerson spent the day combing through his demolished mobile home looking for anything that could be salvaged. "We're homeless and nowhere to go," he said.

Debra Bennett and her family are still in a state of disbelief. "You look around and it's like something is torn up that is never going to be able to be fixed," she said.

The Bennetts are having a difficult time understanding why their house is still standing when so many others around them are not.

The twister lifted their travel trailer into the air and slammed it against their house. The family spent today moving debris and trimming huge oak branches that came dangerously close to their residence.

"From all the houses that got hit, we’re still the one house still standing," Bennett said. "But we’re also blessed because no one got hurt."

Jerral Dickerson said there is always a silver lining in a cloud. And even though he is without a house, he remains optimistic about his family's future. "We’re survivors, and we’ll get through it," he said. "It’s just going to be hard."

Dickerson said he and his family will spend the night at the Sand Flat Baptist Church, which has opened as a shelter for tornado victims.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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