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Several tornadoes touch down, leave trail of damage in SE Texas

Damage in Bridlewood Estates.
Damage in Bridlewood Estates.

HOUSTON – The National Weather Service confirmed that at least six tornadoes touched down Tuesday morning in southeast Texas.

A powerful line of storms swept through the Houston region, producing several reports of tornadoes and damage from El Campo to Missouri City in Fort Bend County. Damage and tornadoes were also reported from Van Vleck in Matagorda County to Sweeny in Brazoria County.

The National Weather Service said survey crews were dispatched to Rosenberg, Richmond, Stafford, Wharton, El Campo, Van Vleck and Sweeny.

On Tuesday afternoon, the agency confirmed that tornadoes touched down near Rosenberg, Greatwood, Stafford, Van Vleck, Sweeny and Wharton. Reports from the other sites were expected later in the day.

List of reported tornadoes according to the NWS:

  • 8 a.m. -- Wharton. EF0 (65-85 mph winds) tornado confirmed. 
  • 8:13 a.m. -- 6 miles south of Rosenberg in Fairchilds area. Not yet confirmed as a tornado.
  • 8:20 a.m. -- Van Vleck. EF1 (86-110 mph winds) tornado confirmed. 
  • 8:25 a.m. -- Near Greatwood. Tara subdivision near Bridlewood Estates. EF2 (111-135 mph winds) tornado confirmed.
  • 8:39 a.m. -- Stafford. EF0 tornado confirmed. 
  • 8:45 a.m. -- Missouri City, Brightwater subdivision. EF0 tornado confirmed.
  • 8:45 a.m. -- Sweeny. EF0 tornado confirmed.

Fort Bend County

Cleanup continued into the night for one Fort Bend County neighborhood hit hard by Tuesday’s storms.

The National Weather Service of Houston said that preliminary reports show an EF 2 tornado touched down in Bridlewood Estates in Fort Bent County.

Rosenberg police tweeted video from a camera at Velazquez Elementary School that appeared to show an officer take shelter right before the tornado swept through the area.

VIDEO: Tornado captured on school camera

Several homes in the subdivision off FM 762 were damaged, including a metal grain dryer that got ripped apart in the high winds.

In the 70 years it stood there, something like that had never happened.

“I think there were nine silos back there,” said Steven Mittanck, whose home is next door. “There is one in our yard and two or three were up against the fence. It hit the electrical wires and knocked those down.”

The Mittancks' home suffered substantial damage.

Part of the roof is gone, many windows were busted out and there is a lot of structural damage.

His insurance company has already sent someone out to survey the property.

“It’s probably going to be 3-6 months to make the repairs,” he said. “They’re finding us temporary housing. Nobody was home, the dog was safe and nobody got hurt. We have good insurance and all of the stuff can be replaced."

VIDEO: Cleaning up after strong storms

"This was a separate garage form the house, it was a hobby shop, “said James Markle, whose workshop took a hit by the tornado. “That’s where I come to relax, but now it’s not so relaxing."

Markle said he was at work when a neighbor had texted him to come home after the strong storms pushed through their neighborhood.

“I was just glad nobody was home when this happened, I mean if this was a couple hours earlier we could have been here, just a couple feet otherwise, it could have hit my house," Markle said.

The two-story workshop was bolted down to the ground when his wife's 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo was damaged in the tornado.

VIDEO: Richmond neighborhoods hit by storms

"She’s kind of scrap metal," Markle said. “I looked at some of the damage already and a lot of it is the main structure and it probably won’t be able to be repaired.”

He said they also received roof damage.

Across the tracks, people in the Brazos Village neighborhood in Gratewood spent the morning picking up trash, debris, and fixing missing shingles.

"Everybody's roof was flying all over the place and as it went on, it became worse," Oscar Marand said.

Marand said he was sitting in his front room when his weather alerts went off and moments later the winds picked up.

He said the wind was so strong that all three of his cars were damaged from flying debris, while his neighbors lost their fences.

VIDEO: Damage in Fort Bend County

When strong winds blew across Frost Lake in the Brightwater subdivision in Missouri City, Fort Bend County on Tuesday, they blew a trampoline up and onto a neighbor’s roof.

Christy de la Mora was not sure of where her trampoline had gone.

"Well, they couldn't find it at first and so we were wondering where it ended up. I'm glad nobody was hurt is all I can say," Christy de la Mora said.

Her two oldest daughters were home as the wind picked up and took down their wooden fence in the backyard and bent their steel gate.

"I've been at work. My kids were home. They called. Said, 'Mom, we heard a loud noise. It was like a wind blowing and things banging bad,'" Christy said.

When she got home, she realized how bad the damage was.

The storm had snapped the chimney off her roof, which left an open hole to the attic.

Her daughters are OK.

"I heard like a really loud noise like a whistling like a train and I just freaked out I was screaming and we just ran to the closet with the dogs. Just stayed in there the whole time,” Brianna de la Mora said.

In all, residents of about 40 homes in the area reported damage.

A tornado was first reported at 8:20 a.m. near Rosenberg, where several homes were damaged. Fences were also knocked down. Authorities closed the Bridlewood neighborhood to non-residents after several homes and a grain facility were significantly damaged by the storm.

At 8:30 a.m., the Weather Service said a trained storm spotter reported a tornado near Greatwood and First Colony.

“You could see the winds shaking the trees back and forth,” said a man who lives in the area. “It seemed like a wall of water came and hit the whole side of the house. You couldn’t see (anything) outside the window.”

VIDEO: Trampoline in neighbor's yard

More damage was reported in Missiouri City. One homeowner said the chimney of their home was knocked down. Another person said the storm relocated a neighbor’s trampoline.

“We have a trampoline in our backyard that came from our neighbor’s house,” said a Missouri City resident.

In Stafford, employees of a business said they took shelter when the storm blew out a window.

Matagorda County and Brazoria County

VIDEO: Sky 2 surveys storm damage in Van Velck

Valentine's Day in Van Vleck after the EF-1 Tornado ripped through it was filled with heroic acts of kindness and bravery.

With a smile, two thumbs up and feeling in her extremities, Ashlie Ovesny is out of surgery after fracturing her neck and back in the tornado.

Her husband Anthony spoke to Channel 2 on the phone from the hospital in Houston to tell us what happened when the tornado stunned his wife and kids.

"She grabbed the kids and held them to her chest as the trailer flipped over and over a couple times," said Anthony Ovesny.

Ashlie took the brunt of the impact; her 1-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were essentially unscathed.

"The quick thinking and the mother's love that she has to grab those kids," Anthony said. "I mean to be that aware to grab those kids, I mean she saved their lives."

Initially, Ashlie and her kids were trapped inside their mobile home.

One of her neighbors took quick action to get them free.

"I walked over there and I heard a lady screaming and so I went up on the porch and I saw she had two kids," Aleck Bermea said. "I grabbed the baby right here and I reached in and grabbed the little boy with one arm."

Bermea brought the boy and girl to his mother while Bermea's friends went to pull Ashlie out of her home.

"I don't know. It was all crazy, like it tripped me out, really. To be honest, (it) scared me. It was wild," Bermea said.

"It's a small town but with a big heart with a big dream too," Jose Murillo said.

Murillo and his family spent the day helping out those tormented by the tornado.

Someone even stopped him in the middle of our interview to say "thank you."

"I have no electricity and no water, no nothing. My windows are blown out of our house and these people down here were the first ones to come with food and water," resident Barbara Mariner said. "That tells me that we have good people in this world still today, and we need to fight for each other and help each other."

The tornado also did a number on the home of Gary Ashton's sister, Mamie, while she was still in it.

"One of the rooms where she was standing, that's the only place that didn't collapse," Ashton said.

It didn't look like a panic room but luckily Tuesday it held up like one. Ashton said after securing his family in his home, he rushed to save his sister.

"Two guys actually from Jackson Electric, the power company here, one of them came in with me and helped me bring her out," Ashton said.

Mamie was unharmed.

The Weather Service said at least six injuries were reported in the Van Vleck tornado.

Officials said that at least 25 buildings were damaged or destroyed by the storm.

Power has been restored to all homes in the area and 15 power poles were replaced.

Other reports

UT Health sent a text message to subscribers that reported a tornado near the Texas Medical Center, but that report was not confirmed by the Weather Service.

Emergency managers also reported a tornado near the Houston Ship Channel and Cloverleaf. The Weather Service said the report prompted a warning to be issued, but there was no tornado.

Looking for help?

Whenever there's significant storm damage, people want to get their homes quickly repaired. However, con artists also take advantage of the damage.

The Texas Attorney General's Office has a list of guidelines to help homeowners find reputable contractors to repair their houses.

Click or tap here for more information.