Mar 23, 2022 - News

Central Texans pick up their lives post-storm

People try flipping a car overturned by a tornado.

People push an overturned car out of the way after a tornado hit a shopping center near I-35 and SH 45 in Round Rock on Monday. Photo: Jay Janner-USA TODAY NETWORK

When Jason McMurry saw the trailer home in his neighbor's driveway get lifted into his own, he and his wife scrambled for cover.

  • Grabbing their two dogs, they made it not one step out of the bedroom before the room "exploded," McMurry told Axios. The tornado "tried to suck me back out the door."

Driving the news: Even as the vast majority of greater Austin was spared any real damage from Monday's tornadoes, pockets are coming to terms with sudden and profound devastation.

Jason McMurry sorts through his belongings on Tuesday.
Jason McMurry sorts through his belongings outside his destroyed home on Tuesday. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

The scene: On McMurry's street in the Kensington Place neighborhood of Round Rock, homes were shorn of their roofs, and the tokens of placid home-life were perverted — trampolines hanging in treetops, picket fences blasted to smithereens, SUVs with blown-out windows.

  • Helicopters buzzed overhead Tuesday, and plumbers, roofers and emergency vehicles were busily ferrying supplies to a street in shock.

The previous afternoon, Amazon's Alexa had just informed McMurry, who works for an energy equipment company, and his wife, who runs a photography studio, of the tornado warning when he saw the trailer on the move.

  • The couple didn't have time to hit the floor before all the windows blew out and their roof was carried off — along with their computers and other belongings.
  • It all happened in about 50 seconds. They turned around to where their bedroom had previously been situated, and found, in the early evening sunlight, a "sheet of white floating in the air" — from the roofing insulation.

Zoom out: Tornadoes touched down in Elgin and Hutto as well — and parts of the metroplex.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott signed a disaster declaration for 16 counties affected by tornadoes, including Bastrop and Williamson.
  • The declarations waive certain regulations to allow officials to quickly meet rebuilding needs.

What they're saying: "The devastation following [Monday's] brutal storm brings into stark focus all of the things we hold dear and where our true priorities lie," Daniel Presley, acting superintendent of Round Rock schools, said Tuesday.

  • "I am immensely grateful that there was no loss of life as can too often happen when this type of storm descends," Presley added.

How to help: The Austin Disaster Relief Network is seeking donations for its tornado relief fund, which will help residents replace furniture and clothes and rebuild their homes.

The bottom line: As McMurry returned to his home — or what's left of it — on Tuesday, he gathered a few clothes, snapping out the dust and debris as he stuffed them into a garbage bag.

  • The previous evening, after the storm passed and he and his wife began taking stock of their suddenly reshuffled lives, he sat himself down on a metal chair found in front of his house "and couldn't function for 30 minutes."
  • "Then I threw up from all the stress," he told Axios.

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