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Tornado rips Bertram area home off foundation with family inside

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

JOPPA — A family of four that survived a tornado ripping their home off its foundation June 12 while they were inside launched a cleanup effort the day after with the help of family and community members.

On the night of June 12, Burnet County sheriff’s deputies discovered Trent Ashworth, his wife, Stacie, and their children, Jeremiah, 15, and Elizabeth, 13, inside their two-story house about 100 yards from its foundation a half hour after the storm swept through the Joppa area.

The tornado, blamed for the destruction of at least three homes, reportedly “touched down” about 8:30 p.m. on the property in the 9500 block of FM 1174, 11 miles north of Bertram.

Trent Ashworth of Briggs on June 13 described how he noticed a tornado funnel outside his home and rushed his family into a bathroom as the tornado swept the home off its foundation. His wife and two children survived and have launched a cleanup effort with help from family and the community.
Trent Ashworth of Joppa on June 13 described how he noticed a tornado funnel outside his home and rushed his family into a bathroom as the tornado swept the home off its foundation. His wife and two children also survived.

“We heard the alerts go off. I saw the funnel touch down on the other side. The path it took just hit the house,” Trent Ashworth said. “We were right in the middle (of the house) in the bathtub with a mattress over us. I heard a major suction. I heard a rip. Next thing you know, my house was over there.”

His son also noticed the funnel cloud minutes before the family sought safety in the bathroom.

“Right when we got into the bathroom and shut the door, it started sucking us away,” Jeremiah Ashworth said

Because of the extent of the damage, Herb Darling, the Burnet County fire marshall and Environmental Services coordinator, along with other emergency officials, offered the family assistance and resources.

“If you look over there, you can see dirt dug up where the tornado drug the house all the way over there,” Darling said. “The tornado was an F2 or F3.”

The Fujita scale (F-Scale) refers to the intensity based on variables such as damage inflicted on a human-built structure, meteorology and engineering assessments, ground-swirl patterns and radar tracking. An F2 to F3 ranges from considerable to severe damage.

“There’s no reason that house should be standing, let alone picked up,” Darling said. “It a miracle.”

Along with the family, two pets and more than a dozen livestock survived the ordeal.

For much of the day after the storm, dozens of community members helped the Ashworth family clear debris and sift through salvageable belongings.

As they continue picking up the pieces, the Ashworths will stay with family who lives nearby.

“I’m glad we all survived,” Jeremiah Ashworth said. “I knew God’s hand was on us.”

connie@thepicayune.com