GRANGER, TEXAS - The small town of Granger is reeling from Monday's tornado with numerous homes destroyed. Little is left to salvage for the Hertless family's three homes off County Road 337, as they comb through 25 years of memories wondering what's next.
"It kind of started catching up with me this morning," said Rick Hertless.
"The process is going to be rough, it's going to be hard," said Hertless' grandson DJ McClelland.
Hertless was with his ailing mother inside her home when it all happened.
"I walk to the end of the porch and I look over and see the tornado," said Hertless.
He rushed back inside as the twister barreled closer.
"And then all of a sudden bam, blew the windows out, glass everywhere," said Hertless.
DJ was inside their home next door with his brother, sister and niece.
"I brought my brother and sister into my mom's room with my dogs," said McClelland.
He shot video on his phone as they hunkered down.
"The door started shaking really bad...I looked to my brother and we made eye contact and the roof blew off," said McClelland.
The four of them were trapped, but alive.
"I was underneath a wall, and then my brother helped me get out of there," said McClelland. "God is good because the only two walls that were standing were protecting us."
As for Hertless' granddaughter's house, it was lifted off its concrete blocks with the floor blown about 50 feet away. The appliances, walls and all the contents inside were another 20 or 30 feet back. The family says they thank God no one was inside that home at the time of the tornado.
McClelland was treated for a concussion, but everyone escaped without major injuries.
"I don't care. The things that are most important I had in my arms. I don't care about this stuff.
"Thankfully there was no loss of life. But it's going to be awhile for them to rebuild," said Jamie Church, owner of the Cotton Country Club in Granger.
Church is leading an effort to collect donations for these families. What do they need the most?
"Right now tarps, work gloves, Rubbermaid tubs, trash bags, water, non-perishable food items, basic essentials," said Church. "We just had some guys come and donate $250 to help people. They're coming in with cash donations, gift cards. It's very heartwarming"
Church and some of her regulars have been working to deliver these critical supplies to people who have lost everything.
"It's overwhelming," said Hertless. "You think, 'I don't know if I deserve this.'"
The Hertless family is grateful to have an army of people helping them clean up and salvage what they can.
"You can feel the love. Seeing how many cars are here shows how much people care," said McClelland.
Thanks to that outpouring, their despair over all the loss is turning to gratitude for all the love.
"I mean I'd say thank you for one. I don't know any other words. I don't know what to say, thank you," said Hertless.
Donations can be dropped off to the Cotton Country Club, 330 E Davila St, Granger. They will be opening beginning at 10AM on Wednesday.
The local fire and police departments are also accepting donations.
If you'd like to help the Hertless family directly, they have set up a Venmo account: @Frances-Hertless
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