Dallas tornadoes impact the Baylor community

Tracy Wallace looks at his missing roof after his home was hit by a tornado in Richardson, Texas, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. Associated Press

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

After three tornadoes ripped through North Texas, some of the Baylor community’s Dallas residents were left to pick up the pieces.

Severe storms in North Texas produced three tornadoes, the strongest being an EF-3 Sunday night which tore a path of destruction through Dallas. Reports thus far indicate no deaths and few injuries.

Courtney Bishop moved to Dallas after graduating from Baylor University in May and said the storm took her by surprise.

“I really didn’t know it was calling for a huge storm. I saw rain in the forecast, but I wasn’t really thinking much about it,” Bishop said. “My mom knocked on my door and was like ‘Hey, I think this storm is coming, we should probably seek shelter;’ so I… grabbed my dog and went into our interior half-bath… within minutes of that, the tornado hit our house.”

Houston junior Rebekah Pilling attends Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas. Pilling said she and her roommates weathered the storm in.

“We got the tornado warning at 9 p.m. and immediately took shelter in our bathroom. Then our lights went out and the tornado sirens started,” Pilling said. “We heard the freight train noise they always say tornadoes sound like, so we covered our head with pillows. After about 15 minutes of our house shaking, it was over.”

Bishop said she could hear the destruction playing out around her as her family took shelter.

“We were all huddled together – me and my mom and dad and brother and two dogs,” Bishop said. “We could feel the tornado starting to lift our house; we could hear all of the glass shattering; we heard the trees falling.”

Bishop, her parents, brother and dog were all uninjured, but she said their house is “just totaled.”

“The tornado took the whole roof off of our house; part of the roof landed on top of my car; totaled my car and my brother’s car, it was really scary,” Bishop said. “It also burst some of our pipes, so we had flooding throughout our whole house until about [9:30 a.m.] and we had gas leaks from the pipes too.”

The tornado spared Pilling’s house, only causing minor damage, but Pilling said the trail of destruction was only a few streets away.

“Our house wasn’t damaged apart from a few shingles from our roof, but a couple streets over the damage was devastating,” Pilling said. “There were uprooted trees and fences knocked down, debris was everywhere, including roofing… It was crazy seeing all the damage since it was over so quick and I had never been through a tornado before.”

Pilling said she and her roommates spent Monday morning surveying the damage to their neighborhood.

“This morning we walked around the neighborhood taking pictures of all the damage. There was so much stuff in the streets and cars everywhere of people trying to leave,” Pilling said.

Bishop also said the tornado brought extensive damage to her neighborhood.

“All the houses on my street got hit pretty hard, but then our neighbors to the back, their fence fell but their house is totally fine,” Bishop said. “On my street and then one street the other way there’s trees down, power lines down, roofs gone, our chimney is in our neighbors’ driveway and their car is flipped upside down. The damage was shocking.”

Though Bishop’s family’s plan for the foreseeable involves driving rental cars and living in a hotel, Bishop chose instead to focus on the positives.

“We are good. We’re really happy to be alive, really thankful for the Lord’s protection, nobody in our neighborhood was harmed to our knowledge,” Bishop said. “We’re just really thankful that the things that matter we still have, which are each other and our lives.”