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Tornado Victims In North Texas Recall Train Sound As They Sought Shelter

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And at Hothe's office, overnight temperatures were a bit above freezing. But the area is recovering from a weekend of tornadoes. They uprooted trees, moved cars, destroyed hundreds of homes and killed 11 people. Bill Zeeble with member station KERA met some survivors.

BILL ZEEBLE, BYLINE: Paulette and Howard Rector from Garland, Texas had heard stories about the terrifying sound of a tornado. But they'd never heard it - not until the day after Christmas.

HOWARD RECTOR: It's - it's just unbelievable how quick it happened. And the sound of the roar - the roar.

ZEEBLE: Howard was in the bedroom. Paulette was in the living room watching TV. He saw threatening winds outside and yelled to her.

PAULETTE RECTOR: He was saying, come on, and I heard something like a train. And when - as soon as I did that, I darted in the bathroom. And as soon as that, that's when everything went everywhere.

H. RECTOR: I'd seen that tree. When I helped her in that bathtub, I'd seen that tree come through that bedroom.

ZEEBLE: They survived. They're staying at their son's place nearby and visited the Red Cross shelter in Garland for items like a toothbrush and a coat. They left their apartment with nothing. The shelter will be Glory Murray's home for the next few nights. In her apartment, she heard the same train sound and dashed into the pantry.

GLORY MURRAY: Now, my apartment wasn't messed up, so I thought. But when I went on the outside, there was a big old thing sticking in the roof of my apartment - debris from off somebody else's apartment. It was jabbed into the roof of my apartment just like a needle. But it's a big needle.

ZEEBLE: Murray, who's 69, would love to be back in her apartment. But it's not safe. In a nearby Rowlett suburb, Sebrena Lowe says she was luckier because of her faith. Ten relatives were at her home when the tornado threatened.

SEBRENA LOWE: We actually went outside and started commanding the winds because God had given us authority over the winds - the airways. And we just began to command this storm not to hit our area. We - we spoke to the storm and said, go to unpopulated places. It did exactly what we said to do because God gave us the authority to do that.

ZEEBLE: Others weren't so lucky or blessed. Officials say many as a thousand North Texas homes were damaged or destroyed. Garland was the hardest hit. Meteorologists say a powerful tornado hit the town with winds exceeding 200 miles an hour. For NPR News, I'm Bill Zeeble in Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.