A residence near the Vernon Lake spillway was severely damaged by what appears to be a tornado touchdown. But there is no path of destruction like tornados usually leave in their wake.
James Cryer was awakened early Monday morning around 2:30 a.m. by a loud noise as a severe thunderstorm passed through Vernon Parish.
With rain from the storm pounding his roof, he tuned his hearing to the noise that had roused him from sleep "I heard a roar that sounded like a train. I knew what was coming. It's a tornado," he said. "We all got up and found a safe place until it passed."
As the freight train-like roar intensified, Cryer could hear the storm thrashing at his house. "We could hear it tearing the roof right off," he said as he looked at the debris scattered across his back yard.
Cryer and his wife Tammie went outside to survey the damage just as soon as the destructive storm past. "The first thing we saw was the two dogs out front,” Cryer said. “They were shaking and scared. Then I saw the fence was blown down and knew how they had gotten out."
When the sun rose, the Cryers expected to see a path of destruction cut through their rural neighborhood on Vernon Park Road.
They were, however, surprised to see that their home was the only one that had suffered any significant damage. "It looked like it just came right over the top of everybody and just dipped down on us," Cryer said.
The daylight also allowed them to see how violently the storm had displaced pieces of their house. A patio cover, constructed of steel, was hurled through the air and now rests in the top of a pine tree about 75 yards from its original location.
Most of the metal and wood roofing materials were also scattered among the distant trees. A four-inch by four-inch wooden post, which had been 18 inches in the ground to support a swing set, was ripped from the swing and out of the ground.
The storm propelled the heavy treated post over a fence and into a tree where it lay on the ground about 30 feet from the swing set.
Some of the pine trees on the property were missing large portions of bark where they had been struck from flying metal and wood. Large remnants of a wooden fence floated in the swimming pool.
Roger Erickson, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Lake Charles, confirmed the report of a tornado South of Jasper, Texas. He could not confirm at this point if it was a tornado that damaged the Cryer's home.
"We had a report of a tornado south of Jasper,” Erickson said. “That same storm system eventually ends up there by Vernon Lake. It's got the potential that it could've been a weak tornado or just straight line winds."
The only way they can be certain as to what hit the Cryer's home is to visit the damaged area. "We'll have to drive up there and actually see the damage to make a determination,” Erickson said. “Everything so for is indicating wind damage, but it very well could have been a weak tornado.”