Gust after gust pushed harder on the tin shell of the home off Lonesome Oak Drive Tuesday night, loosening the nails.
“I got scared,” Jonika said that next morning as she stood on the front porch of her home in southern Bee County. “The TV turned off, and I turned around to the couch. I couldn’t see anything.”
The power was out. All the 3-year-old girl could do was the hear the rattling sounds of the barbecue grill outside being pushed around and the crackle of tin being ripped from the roof.
“I couldn’t see Dad,” she said timidly.
Her father, Johnny, used his phone’s screen for light, casting an eerie glow on the inside of the home.
Outside, plants were swinging from hooks. Decorations were being shredded in the high winds.
Her mother, Patricia, had gone to her mother’s house in Beeville with her other two children just before the storm emerged.
At the time, she knew nothing of what was happening only minutes away. The weather service was tracking a similar storm in the northern part of the county, which brought with it high winds and hail. But this southern storm had just suddenly appeared.
Her father knew they needed to leave the home. But the two were trapped.
“My husband couldn’t get out the front door,” she said.
High winds had taken everything on the front porch and pushed it against the outside walls — and front door.
He was able to force open the door and flee the home with his daughter, making it to safety where the rest of his family waited.
“It shattered my daughter’s window,” Patricia said as she surveyed the damage that next morning. The tin was ripped from half the roof of the house and the front porch.
Across the yard, a small blue stuffed toy cat was covered in mud. A toy doll had been thrown not far away.
“I wonder how hard the wind was?” Patricia asked rhetorically.
A white swing set lay twisted in the yard. “We just bought her that,” Patricia said.
Both Jonika and her father escaped injury. One of their beloved family dogs, Snardles, wasn’t as fortunate. He died in the storm.
Outside cleanup will have to wait.
As a pipeline worker in Kenedy, time off is hard to come by for Johnny.
“He is going to try and do something on the weekend.”
So for now, the pile of twisted tin is right where the storm left it.
“It is crazy how it rolled it right there,” she said pointing to the back right of the house.
She looked at her front porch – her haven from the 100-degree days of summer.
“We just built it in March,” she said. “It is gone now.”
With only half a roof left on the home, Patricia must move everything inside, knowing that it could rain again.
“I am worried about the inside in case it leaks,” she said. “I am going to see if we can stick everything over there. The back rooms are not going to get wet.”
For now, they are staying with her mother and planning a benefit to help raise money for a new home.
“We didn’t have any insurance,” she said. “Big mistake.”
They will look at fixing their mobile home if they can.
“I have never looked into a newer trailer as to what it would cost,” she said. “I just bought this one to start off with. Hopefully, when we are able, we are going to get a us a bigger one.”
She smiles though, because she knows, it always could have been worse.
“This is just stuff that can be repaired,” she said. “A life can’t.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.