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CANTON A powerful storm packing high winds moved through Canton in Van Zandt County just before 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Six business at Interstate 20 and Highway 19 the city's busiest intersection were heavily damaged in the barrage.

The Red Cross says it has identified at least 50 homes in Van Zandt and Hopkins County that were damaged by the storm, and that number was expected to rise.

The winds sent heavy debris flying around the area in a matter of seconds.

We saw the clouds and everything going everywhere, said Paula Pickare.

We're trying to salvage some of our merchandise, said another woman. All I know is a tornado hit.

The damage wasn't widespread in Canton the town 55 miles east of Dallas best known for its monthly flea market but where it did hit, it certainly left its mark.

At Tim Ellis' gas station, he spent the night picking up the pieces. There was no warning when it hit, he said. It was like a snap of the fingers.

Ellis said he got caught up in the high winds that tossed him 20 feet into the air.

I came off the ground so fast I didn't even know I was off the ground, he said. I was spinning, and metal was flying everywhere, and it was just like you were peeling a potato super-fast.

He said the wind swept him into an awning, where he shattered a light bulb with his head.

Others standing nearby took cover in the store as the storm struck.

There was stuff flying and hitting us in the head; glass was breaking, said Pickare, who was setting up her son's clothing shop outside. We saw it just blow the tent across the deal, and then it took the trailer and flipped the trailer down across there.

The wind damaged rooftops, phone booths and other buildings, but those few seconds of strong winds didn't seriously hurt anyone at this location.

The cleanup continued through the night. The Chevron station will be boarded up to protect what merchandise is left inside until a full damage assessment in the morning.

Canton Mayor Rusty Wilson told News 8 that the city's famous First Monday Trade Days is still scheduled for its traditional time early next month.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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