Severe weather tears through community; One woman's wedding dress destroyed

Posted at 11:14 PM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-28 00:22:08-04

A local state of disaster was declared in Bryan after a tornado and flood left several residents displaced.

According to City of Bryan officials, three communities sustained the most significant damage.T he assessments from Red Cross said 153 homes were damaged, 5 were destroyed, and 53 sustained major damage.

The National Weather Service of Houston assessed the damage of the EF-1 tornado. The wind speeds hit up to 110 miles per hour at the peak and 50 yards wide.

Several agencies worked to aid residents after the storms. Immediately after the tornado, Bryan Fire Department searched more than 50 houses in the Wheeler Ridge neighborhood.

As flooding began, crews from Navasota, Washington County, and College station were called to assist. The Texas Task Force One delivered boats to the scene.

Those displaced by the flooding or tornado were invited to stay at the Central Baptist Church, where the Red Cross held a command post.

Nate Kidwell, Disaster Specialist for Red Cross Bryan, said after the tornado hit, power to the Bryan Red Cross facility was shut down, forcing them to relocate.  

“When we got back to our office yesterday, all of our power was off. Our emergency lights lasted about 30 minutes and we lost all of our phones. Our building is completely dark, we have to walk around our building with flashlights,” Kidwell said.

Given the severity of the weather and the scope in which it effected Brazos County, the Red Cross brought in extra volunteers to assist with conducting damage assessments.

In the Pecan Ridge neighborhood, residents were salvaging the items they could save from their homes. When Kimberly Stringfellow came home yesterday after the heavy rainstorms, her home was flooded.

“Anything below knee level, we lost,” Stringfellow said. She described the water pouring over the fence knocking over, a grill and bench swing before rushing under the door.

Members of Stringfellow’s family loaded up trucks with tables, beds, and dressers. The property owner is giving her the option to get out of her lease or wait until the damage is repaired and move back in.

According to Kimberly’s mother, Trina Stringfellow, Kimberly will have no trouble finding a place to stay, however, some of the items she lost were irreplaceable. Kimberly has been keeping birthday cards from her grandparents, who just passed.The collection was completely destroyed.

Friends and family packed dry items in one car and wet into another, making plans to launder what they could. Her wedding dress was also one of the items affected by the flood. The family is hoping they will be able to repair it before the big day.

Across the street, neighbors were still looking for one of their lost pets. Jenni Heath, who also lives in Pecan Ridge, was set to move out of their home in a week. She and her boyfriend still plan to move, but now she must salvage what they can bring to their new home.

Heath, a first responder, watched as boats were deployed to the neighborhood to bring residents to safety. She described the entire situation as ‘helpless.’

Her boyfriend, who only wants to be identified by his first name, John is a volunteer fireman. He said he jumped into action assisting with boat rescues.

“I knew it’d be better to be out there-and get my mind off of [the flooding of my own home],” John said.

Red Cross was able to close their shelter facility Friday evening. The Salvation Army and Central Baptist Church offered to sponsor the remaining four families displaced. According to Nathan Kidwell, this will allow the organization to reallocate some of their resources.

“This morning they sent some volunteers, we taught them how to do assessment. So far Wheeler Ridge-I've had four teams driving through,” Kidwell said.

Once Red Cross completed the assessment of the tornado damage, they started surveying flooded homes.

They were able to complete the assessment due to the cooperation of the city of Bryan.

Kidwell said the emergency response services helping the Red Cross in completing assessments has made the process much smoother.

There is still extensive damage from both the tornado and flooding. As homeowners work to clean up the area, Twin Oaks Landfill will extend their hours to assists cleanup efforts.

The landfill will be open until 5 p.m. Saturday.

If you are in volunteering or contributing to the efforts, you are asked to call United Way at 211. Monetary donations can also be made at United Way of the Brazos Valley, or text the word “bvstorms” to 91999.

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