Van Zandt County Marks Year Since Tornadoes

April 29, 2018 - 6:17 pm

Canton (1080 KRLD) - Van Zandt County is marking one year since tornadoes struck Northeast Texas, killing four people and injuring 49 others. A church in the town of Fruitvale hosted a service Sunday to honor victims.

"I left my wife, and she was scared. I told her to pray. Pray for us and pray for the county," says Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick. "I knew we had destruction."

The National Weather Service confirmed seven tornadoes in the area around Van Zandt, Henderson, Hopkins and Rains Counties. The strongest had winds of up to 180 miles an hour. That tornado was the strongest to hit Van Zandt County since 1950.

The six tornadoes that hit Van Zandt County were the most in a single day there since 1950 as well.

On Sunday, city and county leaders focused on recovery. The tornadoes damaged about 200 homes.

The Van Zandt County Long Term Recovery Group raised money after the storms and has helped repair about 100 of those homes. After a meeting earlier this month, the group said it had given about $478,000 dollars for recovery and has $223,000 available.

"You can see how much our community has rebuilt," says Fruitvale Mayor Jennifer Johnston. "I think that's one of the beautiful things that came about through this storm is just the magnificent way our community responded to each other's needs."

"At the darkest moment of the night is when the stars shine their brightest," Kirkpatrick told the crowd. "Exactly one year ago today was a dark time in Van Zandt County. That's when you began to shine the brightest, our citizens coming together, helping neighbors they didn't know, starting to be a shining light. You have shone for one year, and you continue to shine today."