Lancaster: Twister tosses tractor-trailers, smashes homes



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Posted on April 3, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 2:04 PM

LANCASTER — Residents along Westover Drive said they heard the tornado sirens for at least 20 minutes before the twister touched down in this city of 36,000 south of Dallas.

"I put these britches on, some shoes and socks, went to my bedroom ,and baby it was there!" said tornado survivor Gwen Dabbs. "It was sucking the pillows off me, and I was holding on to it. And then it just stopped and I put my head down and said ‘Oh, help me Jesus! Help me Jesus! Help me Jesus!"

The City of Lancaster said about 300 homes were damaged or destroyed. The city also imposed a curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Dallas County Sheriff’s deputies — along with police from Richardson, DeSoto, Highland Park and other North Texas communities — sent officers to help patrol Lancaster and prevent looting.

The twister skinned and smashed its way through southern Dallas County.

Mechanics stood in a garage recording the twister as it skipped across Interstate 20. Their video shows the tornado sucking a seven-ton semi-trailer up to 40 feet off the ground — then dropping it back to earth.

Those weigh 15,000 pounds, mechanic Matt Strong said.

The City of Dallas said at least 50 similar trailers were damaged or destroyed at the Schneider Trucking Company near I-20 and Bonnie View Road.

Somehow, despite a large, violent tornado in a populated area, no one was seriously hurt.

"It only lasted about three minutes, but you see what three minutes did," said Clyde Washington, who also survived the storm.

Quiental Austin heard it touch down.

"Once we heard the debris slapping stuff, that's when we made our run to the closet," Austin said.

He hid in the closet with his girlfriend, Monique Waites, and a nine-month-old baby. The storm blew his house to pieces.

The only thing left standing - the closet.

"I'm just a little... shocked still, just from everything," Waites said. "But I'm thankful to be alive."