FAYETTE COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office said they received five reports of tornadoes touching down on Friday, but EMS said there were no injuries reported and no people are missing.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning around 9 a.m. and asked residents to take shelter in place.
Deputies got the first call about a tornado that touched down and caused damage on Ehler-Grasshoff Road, which is north of Flatonia in between Bastrop and La Grange. About 30 minutes later, deputies got calls about a tornado touching down near Highway 71 and then another one touching down on Egypt Road.
KXAN sent crews out all over the county to speak with residents who recounted what they saw and what is left over after the storm hit.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which is located off of Egypt Road just north of Highway 71 in La Grange, has severe damage to two buildings.
According to members who were at the location after the damage, one of their buildings that had been standing in that spot for over 100 years was completely wiped out after a tornado touched down in the area.
“This morning there was so much lightning and thunder you couldn’t hear a thing,” said Melvin Jackson, who lives in the area. “The only thing you could see was that wind start to pick up and it got pitch black and I said ‘Well we in trouble now, got to ride him out.”
Jackson’s lived through three tornadoes now.
Their newer church building also suffered damage as winds ripped the tin off the roof and the side wall of the church caved in. Fayette County EMS wrote on Facebook that no injuries have been reported.
“We haven’t heard of nobody getting hurt and that’s a blessing. So that’s the main thing ’cause you can replace that building,” Jackson said.
Fayette Regional Air Center Airport
An official with the airport in Fayette County said there was damage to the airport’s hangar. Around 10 a.m., the rain had just stopped enough for Fayette County officials to go assess the damage.
“At some point I couldn’t even see the runway from the windows,” said Naddeox, who was there at the time the storm hit. “I was never afraid for my life but I was afraid of what I was going to see because there was really some strong winds coming through here.”
Debra Naddeox said the airport’s porch cover peeled off and one of the hangar’s doors was blown in, but the plane inside has no damage.
No one was flying at the time.
McCourt and Sons employees tell KXAN a tornado ripped through their property and two of their buildings are severely damaged.
The family-owned business is located just south Highway 71 west of La Grange. There were more than 30 employees on the property at the time the storm hit.
The workers tell KXAN that when they realized the storm was much more serious than they thought to begin with, they said they divided into two groups and hit inside of two different buildings. Thankfully, those are the two buildings that are still standing after the storm.
“We’re looking at the hand of God because literally, everybody was in the right buildings, they weren’t hurt, we can replace all this stuff, but we can’t replace people,” said Eamon McCourt, who owns the business.
KXAN was there when National Weather Service employees surveyed the damage at McCourt and Sons.
NWS Meteorologist Paul Yura says the employees were smart to huddle in the front office of the business.
That’s exactly where you want to be instead of a very large modular-type building,” said Yura. “A metal frame building is more likely to collapse.”
Ace Hardware store located at 3611 W State Highway 71, which is just east of the airport, also had damage, according to Fayette County EMS.
Brookshire Outland was not worried when she heard about tornadoes coming through the Fayette County area and was eating breakfast in her kitchen at the time the storm hit.
“All of a sudden I heard a noise that sounded like a freight train,” she said. “And then all of a sudden my house shook.” She lives on Jackson Road in La Grange.
“The garage is sitting on top of the car, half the side of my house is gone, but there’s nothing we can do.” Outland said she told her husband when he called to check if she was ok.
She’s a member of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, where their historic church building was completely destroyed. “We still have hope,” said Outland. “Our spirits are not broken, our spirits are still high and we know we can still do this so that’s what we’re going to do.”