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Recovery efforts in progress after EF2 tornado severely damages parts of Orange County

Judge John Gothia said the county’s top priority is restoring power to those who are without.

ORANGE, Texas — Members of the Orange community who live and work near Interstate 10 and Highway 62 are surveying the damage left after a confirmed EF2 tornado ripped through the city Wednesday.

Orange County Judge John Gothia issued a disaster declaration around 2 p.m. knowing that areas south of Highway 62 were severely damaged.

“At Hudnall Road and Stallion Road, and through that little strip right there, is where the majority of the damage that we're seeing is condensed into one area, but I know we've got some scattered stuff throughout the county, you know, spots here and there,” Gothia said. “But the biggest part of the worst hit is up in this area right now.”

According to Gothia, one woman was taken to the hospital as a result of the tornado, but she is expected to recover.

The disastrous weather that travelled through Southeast Texas brought pounding rain, lightning and thunder, but it was the high-speed winds that left a path of destruction. Dangerous funnel clouds that formed in parts of Orange County caused property damage and sent debris flying.

Related: Orange County residents affected by tornadoes encouraged to report property damage through TDEM survey

John Murdock, an Orange County property owner, said the tornado left debris scattered across the yard and tore a garage down at the house he rents out.

“It was coming across here. It peeled off the garage. It's leaking inside the house, and of course the garage fell down,” Murdock said.

Murdock said he was grateful that no one was inside the home when the tornado tore through the area. However, his tenants will have to find a new place to live.

Murdock said he also owns a warehouse in Orange off of Med Davis Road. Murdock was not at the warehouse when the storms started, but his warehouse manager was.

"They hear the noise and then all of a sudden with a big boom the ceiling just goes all at once," Murdock said.

The warehouse manager told Murdock that he believed the business took a direct hit from the tornado. 

“He says just the whole tin roof took off, and then like a big boom, the garage doors got sucked in,” Murdock said.

Judge Gothia said groups are surveying the damage left behind, and the county’s top priority is restoring power to those who are without.

“We've got the energy cruiser in and land cruiser in clearing roads and getting electrical back up and running,” Gothia said.

Gothia said the American Red Cross of Southeast and Deep east Texas is responding to communities impacted by the severe weather. 

Orange County community members affected by the tornado and in need of safe shelter are asked to go to the Red Cross reception center at the Cowboy Church located at 673 FM 1078. Red Cross members will be at the church until 10 p.m., meeting with those affected to assess their needs.

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