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In a north Texas county, dazed residents sift through homes mangled by a tornado

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VALLEY VIEW, Texas (AP) — The dazed residents of a north Texas county sifted through their mangled homes on Sunday after seven people there were killed when a tornado ripped through the remote region near the tiny community of Valley View.

Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington said there’s “just a trail of debris left” in the area bordering Oklahoma where the dead included two children, ages 2 and 5, in Valley View, a town where barely 800 people live. The bodies of three family members were found in one residence, the sheriff said.

The county bore the brunt of powerful weekend storms that left 15 people dead across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Tens of thousands of residents were without power across the three states.

Kevin Dorantes, 20, was in nearby Carrollton when he learned the tornado was bearing down on the Valley View neighborhood where he lived with his father and brother. He called and told them to take cover in the windowless bathroom, where the pair rode out the storm and survived without injury.

Some of Dorantes’ neighbors weren’t so lucky.

As he wandered through the neighborhood surveying downed power lines and devastated properties, he came upon a family whose home was reduced to a pile of splintered rubble. A father and son were trapped under debris, and friends and neighbors worked frantically to get them out, Dorantes said.

“They were conscious but severely injured,” Dorantes said. “The father’s leg was snapped.”

He said they managed to put the father on a mattress and carry him to a truck, where he and his son were driven to an ambulance at a nearby convenience store.

Valley View Chief of Police Justin Stamms said the small agricultural community was reeling.

“It’s been exhausting and heartbreaking,” Stamms said. “I’ve seen this kind of damage on TV, but never in person before this. It’s terrible.”

He said most of the town’s residents work in farming, or at a local feed store and a postal service facility. Many of its displaced residents are staying at makeshift shelters set up inside area churches, he said.

Cynthia De La Cruz said her family hoped to put some of their possessions into storage while they figure out where they’re going to live.

“We’re trying to take whatever we can save,” she said. De La Cruz described the town about 55 miles (88 kilometers) north of Fort Worth as a tight-knit area of mostly Latino people.

“I know this community really sticks together when bad things happen,” she said.

Men were already busy Sunday afternoon putting a new roof on a heavily damaged home. Teams of neighbors and volunteers from a local church helped residents carry furniture and other belongings from inside battered homes into pickups and trailers.

Christopher Landeros, 19, was at dinner in nearby Lewisville when his mom, Juana Landeros, called him and said, “come find us in the truck.”

Juana, her husband and their 9-year-old son Larry took shelter in their pickup truck under floor mats in their garage. The garage is now gone. A tree crashed through windows.

“It was horrific. Hellish. I just kept thinking we were going to die,” Juana said.

Christopher ran to a neighbor’s house two streets over to help pull out an injured man. The man’s wife and two kids were killed.

The street into their Valley View neighborhood was lined with twisted sheets of metal, pieces of home siding, chunks of plywood, toppled power poles and trees stripped of limbs and bark.

Two young boys parked their bicycles next to an overturned RV and scampered through the wreckage.

By SEAN MURPHY and JULIO CORTEZ
Associated Press

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