Tornado-ravaged East Texas begins cleaning up

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At least a half-dozen people remain hospitalized as rescue workers continue to search homes damaged by a rash of deadly tornadoes that struck rural communities east of Dallas.

Two additional tornados were confirmed on Monday, bringing the total to six tornadoes that hit the area on Saturday. There was one EF4, which went from Eustace to Canton and had winds of up to 185 miles per hour, one EF3 twister and one EF2 tornado. There were also three EF0 tornadoes. The tornado confirmed Monday was an EF0 that hit south of Cumby and I-30 in far southwest Hopkins County.

Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in Van Zandt, Henderson and Hopkins counties on Monday afternoon.

Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. Four people were killed and at least 50 others hospitalized when four tornadoes swept through the area Saturday. Authorities say two people initially reported as missing have been found safe.

Two ID’s were made public of those who died: Rusty Barlow, 51, of Corsicana; Kenneth Hughes, 57, of Canton.

No classes were being held in Canton, Eustace, Fruitvale and Martin due to storm damage and no power. Eustace plans to reopen on Tuesday but the other districts are still deciding.

A high school prom in Canton over the weekend was certainly unforgettable thanks to the weather. Edgewood High School students were supposed to be celebrating but the dozens who showed up early crammed into a bathroom at the event.

Dallas firefighter Reagan Sumner owns the Rustic Barn event space in Canton. He described watching his practically new venue and dreams of retirement collapse around him.

“There was people screaming and crying but there was so much noise when the building started collapsing. It was like I could see them crying and screaming but I couldn’t even hear them,” he said.

Sumner said he’s still in shock but thankfully no one in the barn was hurt. He’s still deciding whether or not he will rebuild.

It will take months to clean up the damage.  Thelma Green was out helping family friends clean up on Sunday. She said the devastation is heartbreaking and called it a miracle that her friends are alive.

“We’re just trying to help them salvage pictures, anything of sentimental value we can,” she said.

The Red Cross has set up two shelters for people who lost their homes. One is at First Methodist Church in Canton and the other is at the Emory Civic Center.