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Residents Recount Scary Moments When Tornado Hit Denair

By Kelly Ryan

DENAIR (CBS13) – Residents are still in shock after watching a tornado come straight through their town.

"I thought it looked like a ton of birds flying around in all actuality it was debris," Sabina Woodard said.

That's what Woodard noticed outside her window just before 2 p.m. Sunday. Her husband came in to take a look.

"He said my God he says that's a tornado," Woodard said.

She and her husband took cover and listened to the windows buckle.

"Pretty soon we started seeing things flyer in the house. Everything was in slow motion," Woodard said.

Their garage was ripped off and a barn demolished – their El Camino now sitting underneath.

The Bayless family nearby thought it was a hail storm until they saw a funnel.

RELATED: Rare Tornado Hits Stanislaus County Town, Damages Buildings

"It wasn't very wide. It was narrow, but the debris around it was big," Adrienne Bayless said. "There were sheets of metal flying high in the air."

Their home received some damage, along with others in town.

A church had its shingles ripped off, glass was blown out of windows and trees were uprooted. Power was turned off for all residents for safety concerns.

"All of a sudden I heard this crackle, crackle, crackle, and everything started flying around," Debbie Lawrence said.

Debbie and her husband had been sitting in their backyard.

"We went to our front yard and saw a big flash of light like a transformer blew up," Debbie said.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office says it began fielding 911 calls of residents reporting funnel clouds and tornadoes touching down.

"This is absolutely rare for Stanislaus County," said Sgt. Anthony Bejaran with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies and firefighters who responded found that trees had been uprooted, homes had shingles ripped off and a downtown church had suffered significant damage.

The church's pastor was thankful the tornado didn't come earlier.

"We had a wonderful service this morning," Pastor Justin Lehman said. "We're just praying the Lord that everyone was out when a tornado came around two."

As residents pick up the pieces, everyone is glad to be safe - not something Sabina Woodard imagined when the tornado hit.

"I kind of thought, 'Wow, this is the end.' I was waiting for the house to lift up and go with us in it," Woodard said.

Residents are grateful no one was injured. Crews are working through the nigh to restore power. A temporary shelter has been opened at the elementary school.

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