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Photo: Caleb Downs
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Two years ago today, residents across San Antonio awoke to power outages, dozens of downed trees and hundreds of damaged houses — the devastating results of a record-breaking tornado outbreak in South Central Texas the night before.
Nine tornadoes were recorded from San Antonio to Thrall, the most ever in February, according to the National Weather Service. Two of them, including one in Bexar County, were rated EF-2, which typically results in “considerable” damage.
The storm struck around 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 19, 2017, but it wasn’t until the next day that San Antonians began to see its full effects.
Nearly 600 residences were damaged and 11,800 calls for service submitted. City crews removed 21,000 cubic yards of debris, the equivalent of a football field stacked 13 feet high. Early estimates from insurance companies anticipated total losses would reach $100 million.
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While only five injuries were reported, several people described close calls.
A man and his wife, who was seven months pregnant, said if they had gone to bed at their normal time, “the beams from the roof…would have impaled and stabbed us.”
Another man in the Alamo Heights area said he was awakened by the tornado warning on his phone, and though he usually ignored those, he got out of bed to help his wife and son, just as a beam from his carport flew through the master bedroom.
“That’s what saved me from the beam coming through and skewering me,” the man told the Express-News at the time.
A Catholic church was severely damaged, a school canceled classes due to a power outage and city officials requested a disaster declaration from Gov. Greg Abbott in order to collect state and federal assistance.
Even a year later, when most damaged structures had been remodeled and most businesses reopened, others were still undergoing major construction.
Click through the slideshow to see photos from the tornado’s aftermath.