The super cell this past Friday, April 28 brought brutal winds up to 110 MPH, baseball/softball size hail, and an F-1 tornado to parts of Medina County. The most severe path of the storm began 7 miles northwest of D’Hanis and continued on a 34+ mile path, ending 2 miles east of Castroville with winds up to 86-110 MPH and hail up to baseball/softball size.
The tornado is said to have developed 5 miles southeast of Hondo and touched down for 1.8 miles toward Hondo Creek, according to the National Weather Service report, which stated “Hondo Creek prevented further survey eastward”. That is the only tornado confirmed by the NWS at this point. However, we have seen several photos of what appears to be a tornado in D’Hanis as well as the Castroville area. If not, the 86-110 MPH straight winds and microbursts appear to be able to do just as much damage.
“The south side of Hondo is where the tornado touched down according to the NWS, which is near the hospital, and going back toward Hwy 173, where we had a house that is just gone-the home is just debris now,” Sheriff Randy Brown said. “The home was located on the first county road as you are leaving Hondo, headed towards Devine. I believe the woman in that home did go to the hospital, and I do not know her condition. Thankfully, we have not had any other severe injuries reported.”
“We assisted a couple of families out of the wreckage of their mobile homes and RVs,” said Sheriff Brown. “There are a lot of homes that are either completely destroyed or have so much damage that they are not livable. I do not know how many yet, but it’s more than a couple. Damage was so widespread, and we were so busy, I couldn’t even tell you where they are were off the top of my head. We had all hands on deck trying to help do different things this past week.”
If your house is not livable and you do not have a place to stay, please don’t hesitate to call so we can try to find someone who can help, said Sheriff Brown. You can call the Sheriff’s office at 830-741-6150 if you have a need relating to storm damages, or you can also reach out to the News office.
Medina County Emergency Manager Keith Lutz added, “We had two mobile homes that actually rolled, and I believe at least one of those families was inside the home and went to get checked out, but thankfully no severe injuries have been reported. There are roofs that hail went completely through it because of the size. One home north of Hondo had something like 150 hail stones go right through it.”
“We also had a large tree go through the roof of someone’s home south of Hondo. There are a whole lot of roofs in Medina County that will need to be replaced. And there are a lot of families who do not have insurance to cover it.”
“The damage is pretty widespread, with most major damages occurring in about an 8 mile strip along Hwy 90, intensifying in certain areas as the storm went along,” Lutz said. “The major damages almost followed the path of Hwy 90 stretching about 4 miles on both sides of Hwy 90. As far as concentrated amounts of damages, D’Hanis got beaten, it was pretty bad. Of course Hondo had its fair share of wind and hail too. ”
“The storm seemed to weaken as it went further east, but there was also an area south of Castroville that was hit pretty hard too. We are still assessing damages. We are working with Red Cross to determine how many homes were severely damaged in all,” said Lutz.
Along FM 1343 Sheena Williamson stated “My neighbor said a tornado literally touched down right in the corner of his property. Me and the kids, including my 1 month old grandbaby, were in the closet. They were hunkered down and I was standing above them. Our house was just shaking, like an earthquake. One of our big windows broke so the hail and water came right in. It was so scary. I never want to go through that again. Every big tree in our yard is just gone or snapped in half. There were two telephone poles that looked like they were just pulled straight up out of the ground. We have seven leaks in our roof, but we are all okay, and I know there are many families in this area that had much more damage. Things will get fixed; we’ll just have to take it one day at a time. I know friends who lost their whole roof, and the top of a two-story home in this area that looked like it was pretty much destroyed. ”
On CR 467 (the road between Hwy 173 to Hwy 90), the Runnels home was hit by what looks like a twister, as the roof was peeled off and knotted around the tree.
“It looks like a tornado to me. It took about three-quarters of our roof and threw it in the field about 300 yards from our home, and wrapped the rest of it around the big Oak tree in front of our home. Two pieces of the mangled roofing were knotted around the tree, and had to be cut off. Other pieces were wrapped around the branches in a U-shape,” LeeAnn Runnels said. “Three of our outbuildings are completely ruined. One of my neighbors grain bins are knotted up in his field, about a half mile from where they were.”
LeeAnn and her son hunkered down in the laundry room covered in pillows and blankets.
“Shortly before it happened, we were outside and it was just very still. My son saw a story and said hey there was a tornado in D’Hanis, and little did we know it was headed our way. All of a sudden the wind got really bad, and I noticed the tree branches were blowing around in a circular motion, so I said okay it’s time to go inside. We hunkered down in the laundry room, and when I looked out the glass door the sky had just gone to dark gray, that’s all I could see was gray, just like the movie Twister. The worst of it lasted about 20 minutes. When we came out we had leaks all over the place and we were trying to catch it in buckets and pots and pans. It was literally raining inside the house. The ceiling was just too wet, and when I saw it sagging, we just packed up and left. Before the next storm hit with all the rain and hail, I packed up our photos. They can’t be replaced. Our roof, the sheetrock, the flooring, even the walls are just ruined.”
But it wasn’t long before the community did the awesome thing that Devine does! First, a friend Jim Sessions, offered them a place to stay, and then over a dozen people came out to help with the cleanup and salvaging the family’s things.
“Thanks to incredible friends, we have a dry house with a roof to stay for the time being, “Lee Anne said, adding the following day, “A HUGE thank you goes out to this group of generous people! St. Paul Lutheran Church and Devine Middle School people came in a caravan today to help pack 30 years of stuff up in my wet, mildew-smelling house! The swing set, and out-buildings debris was cleaned up in an afternoon! The pens had an incredible amount of trees piled up and it is now cut up and hauled off. The previous day, Chris Fowler, Kate Fodley, and her brother and friend came out to clean up debris also. Keldon and I are so grateful for the help in getting out of the house.”
The county urges residents to report any and all storm damage.
“Unfortunately, at this point, we do not think Medina County will be able to get FEMA assistance, but we are asking everyone to report your damages at the link, because the amount of assistance we get is directly dependent on the amount of damage reported in our county,” Lutz said. “If enough damage is reported, we should be able to at least get the low interest loans for those who need repairs.”
The TDEM damage reporting link can be found on our facebook.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We spoke to some local families who had extensive damage and did not have insurance. If you would like to assist these families, we are including their contact information.
“It was horrible. It sounded like a train coming. I could hear the trees coming down and the hail sounded like bombs coming down, busting out several windows in our home and the windshield and almost all the windows in our vehicles,” said Mrs. Bicenta Gomez.
“We also need to replace half of our roof now,” Gomez adds. “Right now, we are stuck here, as we cannot drive our vehicles and have not been able to find a windshield replacement for the Trailblazer.”
When asked who was hit the hardest and is in need of assistance in D’Hanis, Mrs. Linda Rose Finger told us about the Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy A and Liz DeLeon family, who she has a lot of admiration for.
“Liz has a heart of gold and will give anyone the last bite of food she has,” said Finger, who also has what seems like “100’s of holes in the ceiling” from hail.
The DeLeon family does not have insurance, and could really use a helping hand. They are one of many D’Hanis and Hondo area families who waited out the storm by hunkering down in the bathroom and just praying.
“It was lifting part of the roof, and the water was coming in,” Mrs. DeLeon said. “My husband, my two sons, my daughter and myself all got into the little shower area.
Describing all of the damages is overwhelming, as well as the unknowns when it comes to the cost of repairs.
“Our home is 60 years old already, and how much it will be to repair everything, if it can be repaired is overwhelming. We are all still in shock really,” Mrs. DeLeon said. “It’s just too much to describe. The roof, all of the northside windows are busted out, most of the windows of our vehicle, the fence, my daughter’s RV and all of the windows in it, my son’s RV really took a beating, my neighbors home, my sister-in-law who lives down the road almost lost her roof completely. All of us took a beating. The hail was softball size I’d say.”
“My elderly neighbor and his daughter said they have money to stay in a hotel for only a few days, and after that they are planning to pitch a tent until the insurance comes through on their mobile home,” DeLeon said.
But Mrs. DeLeon said the messes can be cleaned and the damage repaired eventually, “the important thing is everyone’s okay.”
“At the gas station, someone asked me ‘How are you still smiling?’ and I said, well, we are really very lucky. Jesus was there standing with us as we crammed into that shower.”
You can mail donations to:
Bicenta Gomez PO Box 484 D’Hanis, Tx 78850
Liz DeLeon at PO Box 173, D’Hanis Tx. 788850
National Weather Service Reports…..
Damage Survey for 04/28/21 Tornado Event…
Estimated Peak Wind: 110 MPH
Path Length/Statute: 1.8171 miles
Path Width,Maximum: 600.0 yards
Start Date: 04/28/2021
Start Time: 07:33 PM CDT
End Time: 07:41 PM CDT
End Location: 6 SE Hondo/Medina County/TX
Within the larger more sporadic wind damage path, a National Weather Service survey team found a distinct path of concentrated damage along Elstone Road/CR 446 that has been rated an EF-1 tornado. Based on radar and time estimates from locals the tornado began west of State Highway 173 where it peeled back the roof of a barn structure before causing significant damage to a manufactured home and rolled an RV. The tornado crossed Highway 173 and proceeded east along CR 548 snapping tree trunks along the road before reaching another cluster of manufactured homes. One home was pushed off of foundation.
Another single family home suffered extensive roof damage. The homeowner provided details of the event and showed additional damage to the property, including a shed anchored with cement footings being demolished and a weighted deer blind being blown over. Damage decreased to the east of these homes with a center pivot irrigation system damaged more tree damage. An endpoint for the tornado was estimated as Hondo Creek prevented further survey eastward. Non-tornadic Wind Damage was found to the east of Hondo Creek on Lower Elstone/CR 4513 and continued to the eastward southwest of Castroville.
NWS Damage Survey for 04/28/21 Thunderstorm Wind Event and Wind Damage for the D’Hanis, Hondo, and Castroville Area…
Peak Wind Estimated: 80-110 MPH
Path Length/Statute: 34 Miles
Path Width/Maximum: 9 Miles
Start Date: Apr 28, 2021
Start Time: 703 PM CDT
Start Location: 7 NW D’Hanis/Medina County
End Date: APR 28, 2021
End Time: 817 PM CDT
End Location: 2 E Castroville/Medina County
A National Weather Service Survey Team found a wide swath of wind damage across Medina County, produced by a Supercell Thunderstorm that began south of Del Rio and moved east along U.S. Highway 90. The most common damage observed was large hard and softwood trees with large limbs or trunks snapped, the entire tree uprooted. In addition, center pivot irrigation systems were damaged or flipped over. Research shows winds of at least 70 MPH are needed to cause these structures to twist or topple over. Similarly, corn stalks of 2 to 3 feet in height were blown down or snapped. A master farmer in South Dakota confirmed that winds of 50 MPH will generally blow down corn, while winds of 70 MPH or higher usually result in the stalks snapping. In D’Hanis, wind-driven hail produced severe damage in an RV/Trailer Park, to school buses at the High School, and other structures. As the storm moved eastward, baseball or softball sized hail and 80 to 100 MPH winds caused a dangerous combination and more widespread damage. Structures near the South Texas Regional Airport (Hondo) lost part of their roof, with tree damage occurring around the City. The storm’s circulation tightened and produced a tornado approximately 4 to 5 miles southeast of Hondo before the rear-flank downdraft became dominant as the circulation occluded and produced more damage to trees, powerlines, and roof or siding damage to homes from south of Castroville into the eastern part of town.
By Kayleen Holder