Tornado Guts Colorado Town, But Spares Lives There Parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado are recovering from a powerful storm that killed at least four people. The Weather Service recorded 65 separate tornadoes Wednesday across a large section of the West and Midwest. Some of the worst damage was done last night in Holly, Colo.

Tornado Guts Colorado Town, But Spares Lives There

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

Today, parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado are recovering from a powerful storm that killed at least four people. Yesterday, the Weather Service recorded 65 separate tornadoes across a large section of the West and Midwest. Some of the worst damage was last night in Colorado in the town of Holly.

As NPR's Jeff Brady reports, a tornado funnel there as wide as two football fields ripped through a neighborhood.

JEFF BRADY: Yesterday, Dory Schaeffer(ph) had a beautiful, split-level home. Today, much of the roof is gone and the backyard is littered with debris from her neighbors' property.

(Soundbite of cleanup after a storm)

Ms. DORY SCHAEFFER (Resident, Holly, Colorado): Cici(ph), I believe this is part of your shed.

BRADY: Schaeffer was home when the twister hit around eight o'clock last night. She was downstairs. Her husband was on the main level, watching television.

Ms. SCHAEFFER: As the lights went out, he jumped up and he says, man, that train sure is loud, and it dawned on him and he yelled, tornado. And he come down the stairs, and as he hit the bottom of the stairs towards the basement, it hit and knocked (unintelligible) and it come to blow him on end where the room was.

BRADY: Schaeffer and her husband escaped without injury. She says the house appears to be a total loss. Down the street, Brenda Crumms'(ph) elderly parents lived in a modular home. All that's left is the cement foundation and a pile of debris in the backyard.

Ms. BRENDA CRUMMS (Resident, Holly, Colorado): We're looking for a black box with their insurance papers and their wills and a lot of stuff in it, and whatever we can salvage.

BRADY: Crumms says both her parents are in the hospital. Her mom has a broken leg and pelvis, her dad two punctured lungs and broken ribs. She says he had just taken her mother into the bathroom when the twister crashed into their house.

Ms. CRUMMS: He said he didn't really realize, but he just flew. And they were found in a field behind here.

BRADY: They were in the house?

Ms. CRUMMS: They were in the bathtub, and they flew clear back to some trees back there, and I found them.

(Soundbite of clanking sound)

BRADY: Residents and volunteers started cleaning up the debris this morning. Among the twisted metal and broken off trees, the town's warning siren looks to be pretty much intact and still bright shiny red. As the storm approached, it never warned residents. Curtis Wright(ph) was home with his kids.

Mr. CURTIS WRIGHT (Resident, Holly, Colorado): They were wanting to run to the basement until we got to this storm cellar over here, but it was too late. There wasn't no going to the cellar, so we just got them down and we got into the hall in the center of the house, you know, and just stayed down and rode it out.

BRADY: Usually, the National Weather Service puts out alerts when a tornado is spotted, but not this time. Prowers County Under-sheriff Ron Trowbridge says Weather Service radar doesn't reach this corner of southeastern Colorado.

Sheriff RON TROWBRIDGE (Under-Sheriff, Prowers County, Colorado): We had a deputy that spotted the tornado as it was on the ground. He didn't realize it had gone through the town.

BRADY: Holly has been a hard luck town lately. This tornado came less than three months after a blizzard that pretty much shut down this part of the state and killed upwards of 10,000-cattle. The tornado also killed dozens of cattle. One rancher said there are some animals hurt so badly, they'll have to be euthanized.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Holly, Colorado.

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