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Lake Ray Roberts Tornado: People took shelter inside marina restaurant cooler

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Published  May 27, 2024 9:30pm CDT

Businesses devastated by North Texas tornadoes

Business owners are beginning the long road to rebuilding after tornadoes left a trail of destruction on Saturday night.

Many people in Valley View are still taking in their new reality after an EF-3 tornado left behind a trail of destruction.

Guy Dankel's RV business that he spent 10 and a half years building is now a pile of tangled metals.

"It's just surreal - you just don't think anything like this can happen to you," Dankel said.

The powerful twister that tore through Valley View damaged around 200 homes, businesses and other structures.

While the storm came barreling towards the Lake Ray Roberts Marina, Bill Williams and his wife and their employees rounded up everyone they could to get them to safety inside a walk-in cooler in the restaurant kitchen.

"Everybody just leaned, or they sat down, or leaned against the back of the wall," recalled Williams.  

More than a dozen people huddled together and braced for the impact.

Outside the restaurant, RVs were ripped off their wheels and flipped over.

Several people were found trapped inside, and a few others were hurt.

"As soon as the building started to collapse, we dove into the freezer with 15 to 20 other people," said Bill Fouts.

Bill and Elizabeth Fouts spend every weekend they can on the lake. This holiday weekend was no different.

When the storm cleared, they were sure their boat - The Ashley Michelle - named after their daughter who passed away from long QT Syndrome, was gone.

Somehow, it managed to break loose and get to another dock.

"We've got an angel above for sure," said Fouts.  

The Fouts' believe if not for Williams they might not have made it to safety in time.

"They saved our life, they saved a lot of lives, good people, that's all I can say, good people," Fouts said.

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The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Lake Ray Roberts Marina.

The owner says 25 RVs were staying there when the storm hit.

Both business owners say rebuilding could take up to at least a year. 

 

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