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North Texas RV park residents recall fleeing to safety as tornado destroys their community

RV park residents recall fleeing to safety as tornado destroys their community
RV park residents recall fleeing to safety as tornado destroys their community 02:40

DENTON COUNTY — Heartbreak and sadness fill a Denton County RV Park hit by a Saturday evening tornado. All the RVs are damaged or destroyed, but amazingly, everyone escaped alive.

Sidney Lepard fled the Lake Ray Roberts Marina RV Park in Sanger in her vehicle after a tornado warning. She couldn't believe her eyes when she returned.

"When we drove up, Charles says, 'The bus is gone!' I said, 'Where could a 40-foot bus be gone to?'" Lepard said.

Lepard and her husband lived in their RV at the park for the past 10 years.

"I have stuff that's scattered all the way to the lake," Lepard said. 

The couple finally found their home, which is now nothing more than a pile of debris.

"I think I was just in shock mostly," Lepard said. "The devastation was just unreal."

It's a roller coaster of emotions as Lepard sifts through her mangled belongings.

"You look at stuff that's kind of comical, and you have to laugh about it. Then you look at the devastation, and you want to cry," Lepard said.

Lepard found a few sentimental items mixed in the rubble, but otherwise, she has to start over.

"Basically, everything is destroyed," Lepard said. "We found some clothing. We have found some pictures, some jewelry, but other than that, everything's gone."

Frank Soltysiak and his 20-year-old dog lived in what was their RV. It was next to a deck, and the tornado carried it about 50 yards.

"We could hear it all around us. It was like a freight ran right through," Soltysiak said.

Soltysiak and his Maltese "Sampson," who is blind and deaf, hid in the park's restaurant cooler along with several other people. Soltysiak said the RV park owner honked his horn and got residents inside the cooler before the tornado tore the park apart.

"All of a sudden, we felt the air get sucked right out, so we went running in. When I was running to the cooler, I could see the ceiling heave up," Soltysiak said.

The pair and everyone else at the RV park are putting back the pieces of their lives.

"This is my home," Soltysiak said. "I started doing the RV life, Sampson and I, and we were loving it."

"We will most likely get another type of RV. We won't live here because it's going to be such devastation for them to repair. It'll be a long time," Lepard said. "We'd like to move back if it reopens."

Lepard's belongings may be lost, but what she found is a community moving from a surge of destruction to an appreciation for life. 

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