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'We're going to make it': Neighbors get to work on repairs after tornado rips through Round Rock

A damaged car and house, with debris from a tornado all over the front yard
Michael Minasi
Debris litters a yard in Round Rock the morning after a tornado ripped through the neighborhood. Residents were beginning to assess and repair damages Tuesday.

Barbara Harber and her family gathered branches from their front yard in Round Rock. Her street was littered with ripped-apart trees and far-traveled debris. Shingles from her neighbors' homes sat on top of her roof, and her back fence had nearly toppled over.

"We heard some roaring," she said Tuesday morning. "I opened our back patio door and you could hear it. It sounded like a freight train. And then I closed it and looked at my husband and said, 'Did you just hear that?' And he said, 'Yes,' and I opened it again, just to be sure. And it was even louder."

She, her husband, two sons and two dogs took shelter in a hallway as the tornado passed. It was over surprisingly quick, she said. No one was hurt and the damage to the house wasn't as bad as to neighbors' just one street over.

The tornado that ripped down her street Monday night was one of two confirmed in Williamson County. It traveled from Round Rock out to eastern parts of the county and up toward Granger. A second hit Jarrell, taking out homes and other buildings.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said Tuesday a preliminary count found about 1,000 homes damaged or destroyed in the county.

County Commissioner Russ Boles told KUT on Tuesday that there were no deaths or major injuries reported. Round Rock's mayor, Craig Morgan, signed a disaster declaration.

Hal Hanlin is one of those neighbors a street over from Harber. His home on Windsong Trail had two large holes in it — one in his daughter's room and the other on the roof.

Four people putting up wood siding on a damaged house.
Michael Minasi
Residents make temporary repairs to a house damaged by a tornado.

He said he was quickly able to begin repairs with support from the neighborhood.

"Fortunately, there were a lot of people down here who know how to deal with disasters," Hanlin said. "And we're a supportive group, so we come out, and even if I don't know the face, we're all in it together. It's smiles, and it's high-fives. And we're going to make it."

Hanlin and Harber both said the one thing that remains uncertain is when power will be restored. At a press conference Monday night, Gravell said power would be out as crews repaired downed power lines. He declared a local state of disaster.

The City of Round Rock is asking that people contact the utility Oncor for estimates on when service will return. It created a webpage for people to find ways to help others, including by bringing donated items to Dell Diamond.

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Allyson Ortegon is a former Williamson County reporter for KUT.
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