Residents recount feelings of terror, assess damage after tornado rips through Richardson

Moisture from the storm caused resident Cindy Dorsay's roof to collapse.

Moisture from the storm caused resident Cindy Dorsay's roof to collapse.

Image description
ric apartment complex
Image description
ric car crushed
Image description
ric garage door storm
Image description
ric naked tree
Image description
ric spider tree down
Image description
ric starbucks storm
Image description
ric stop sign
Image description
ric storm debris
Image description
ric structural damage
Image description
ric traffic signal bent
Image description
ric tree roots
A tightly wound funnel is how resident Jerry Cern described the tornado that decimated areas of south-central and southeast Richardson in the late hours of Oct. 20.

"It was skinny—wasn't a big monster or anything," he said. "But look what it did to that traffic light? That's real power."

Cern and his neighbors were some of the most severely affected by the tornado, which touched down near Centennial Boulevard and South Bowser Road. No fatalities have been reported, according to the city.

"The only emergency vehicle we didn't see last night was an ambulance," Cern said. "Apparently, everyone made it out by the hair of their chinny chin chin."

The worst of the storm lasted only about an hour but left behind damage that will require weeks of cleanup and recovery. A statement from the city said crews are responding to multiple reports of downed trees and power lines and damaged buildings.

Cern said he knew something was wrong when he felt a pressure in his eardrums. He heard a loud noise as his garage buckled, and then it was over, he said.

"The debris was raining out of the sky," he said. "It was here and gone."

Down the street, Jerry's neighbor Cindy Dorsay said she had only seconds to grab her dog and move into the bathroom before the tornado hit. An hour after the storm blew through, moisture from the rain caused her roof to cave in.

"It was terrifying—I've lived through a lot of stuff," she said.

As Dorsay assessed the damage to her home, her daughter let her know that part of her front patio was lying in the middle of the street. Pieces of Dorsay's roof had also blown next door and crashed through her neighbors' home and the windshield of their car.

"I talked to them last night—they are all OK," she said.

The smell of natural gas after the storm had neighbors on edge, and many were hesitant to light candles or use generators, Dorsay and Cern said.

"I was scared ... that somebody would get the bright idea of plugging a generator into their house, and without knowing, they would back feed the line all the way down the neighborhood and start a fire a thousand yards away and not realize it," Cern said.

Moments after re-emerging from her bathroom, resident Jessica Gurganus discovered a tree had landed on the roof above her master bedroom. The roof eventually collapsed, leaving much of the back half of her home exposed.

Gurganus described the tree that landed on the roof as a sentimental object of her sons' childhood. They had built a squirrel shelter there and watched critters use it as a nesting place for their young.

There are no longer any trees on her property, where she has lived for 20 years, she said.

"We are going to miss it—it will be an adjustment," she said. "It gave us so much joy. I know it sounds silly about a tree, doesn't it?"

Down the road at Cutter's Point Apartments, Florence Salam and her family stood outside and peered into what used to be their unit. So far, they have not been permitted to enter and gather their belongings. Her children were dressed in their pajamas. Salam wore a dress borrowed from her sister.

Salam said she was at work and on the phone with her children when the tornado hit. During the phone call, the roof came off, and windows shattered.

"All of the sudden, I heard them scream," she said "They were really scared."

The family is unsure where to turn to next, Salam said.

Across US 75 in the Richardson Heights neighborhood, residents on Sherwood Drive walked their block to assess the damage. At Sherwood and Weatherred Drive, crews worked to dismantle a large tree blocking the roadway.

Resident Mary Soto said as she and her son sheltered in the hallway during the storm, she could hear suction pulling at her roof.

"I thought my home was going to go up ... You could hear the wood cracking," she said.

Many of the homes on Sherwood are unscathed, but tree debris totaled some cars and damaged some roofs. The south side of the block was still without power as of 10 a.m. Monday.

For many, the next step is to file insurance claims, which means documenting the damage. Gurganus said her family has already begun the process.

"An adjustor will come out to assess the damage," she said, "and as soon as they do and get everything approved, hopefully we will start getting everything removed."
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

Gracie Gym Richardson
Brazilian jiujitsu academy Gracie Gym moves to new Richardson location

The training center teaches self defense and offers after-school care.

Shawarma
Beirut Shawarma City to bring authentic Lebanese cuisine to Richardson

The restaurant will serve homemade Lebanese shawarma and more.

Sanitas Medical Center Richardson
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas to help residents select health care plans at Dec. 7 event in Richardson

The event will also include free wellness checks, healthy food giveaways and community resources, according to the release.

Richardson Fire Department annual toy and food drive
Richardson Fire Department kicks off holiday season with annual toy and food drive

The annual event benefits clients of the Network of Community Ministries.

Liberty Junior High School in Richardson ISD
Talk of moving sixth-graders to junior high campuses underway in Richardson ISD

The move would have far-reaching impacts for the district, officials say.

American flags
New initiatives to enhance the lives of veterans in Richardson

Staff is proposing several new efforts to promote resources and services for members of the armed forces.

Sew Let's Quilt It custom quilt
Sew Let's Quilt It to celebrate 10th anniversary with storewide sale Dec. 7

The design studio provides quality, custom, machine quilting as well as custom memory and T-shirt quilts.

Lockwood vodka being held out by an arm
Lockwood Distilling Co. now serving small-batch spirits and comfort food in Richardson

The distillery and restaurant is the latest new business to join the strip center on Lockwood.

Richardson tornado
Tornado victims invited to free storm recovery classes at Richland College on Nov. 9, 16

Richland is offering the tuition free classes to help residents get back on their feet.

Jason's Deli sandwich and iced tea
Jason's Deli to open in Richardson Square

This will be the sandwich chain's second Richardson location.

Back to top