The Jarrell Townsite
Company sponsored several major "lot sales"
during 1910 and 1911. The company, headed up by
E.C. Haeber and Orlando
Jarrell (for which the town was
named), would charter a special train over the new
railroad, for which people would be entertained for the
afternoon by, usually, a big barbecue, a brass band from
Walberg or elsewhere, and many flowery speeches about the
bright future of Jarrell.
A transportation history magazine
called Journal of Texas Shortlines is coming up with an
issue entirely devoted to the little Bartlett Western
railroad and the stage line that ran through Jarrell many
The 1997 tornado -
The Jarrell Recovery Headquarters-
Hours are 4pm to 7pm on Mondays and
Jarrell Recovery's phone number is (512) 746-0030
reprinted article on the Jarrell '97 tornado-
carve a deadly trail
The Texas tornado"
Tornadoes cut a deadly
swath through Central Texas on Tuesday, leaving
at least 31 dead in Jarrell in Williamson County,
collapsing a grocery store
roof in Cedar Park, and causing at least two deaths in
Williamson County Sheriff Ed Richards said 30 people were
confirmed dead at a temporary morgue set up at the
Jarrell Volunteer Fire Department. He said rescue workers
would search for survivors throughout the night. Another
person was pronounced dead at Scott & White hospital
in Temple. Two others were in critical condition, and
hospital officials were asking for blood donations.
Rescuers continued searching early today at the
Albertson's grocery in Cedar Park, where the twister
reduced much of the store to rubble. Based on a review of
license plate numbers in the parking lot, five customers
were unaccounted, authorities said. The storms formed
south of Waco on Tuesday afternoon and swept south along
Interstate 35, striking Williamson and Travis counties
just before rush hour and knocking out power to 60,000
homes and businesses. In North Austin, the body of a
woman was pulled from raging Shoal Creek. In western
Travis County, a man died when a tornado tore through the
Hazy Hills development. Jerry F. Johns, president of the
Southwest Insurance Institute, said damage to homes, cars
and commercial buildings in Central Texas would be in the
hundreds of millions of dollars.
Today could bring more misery. The
forecast for Travis and surrounding counties calls for a
50 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms with
locally heavy rainfall and strong winds possible. As the
storm crossed from Bell into Williamson County, traffic
halted on the interstate and hail peppered the ground
ahead of a massive funnel cloud that snaked a thin white
tail to the ground, where it expanded into a blue-black
column. The twister destroyed about 50 homes in Jarrell,
or roughly 10 percent of the dwellings in the town of
about 1,400 people. Gary Lohman, a 20-year resident of
Jarrell, stood guard over what remained of Clawson
Disposal Company, a private garbage hauler where he
"We could see it coming,"
he said, pointing to the northwest. "We watched it
for 10 or 15 minutes. At first it was thin and narrow and
we thought it was going to dissipate; then it came up
from the ground as a huge mass." Lohman and several
friends rode out the storm at the storm cellar in his
home in Jarrell. When they returned, little remained of
the street where he had stood watching the tornado. A
steel building where Clawson maintained a recycling
center was completely destroyed. A garage collapsed on
"That used to be solid
steel," Lohman said, pointing to the twisted scrap
of metal which had once been a
dumpster across the road. "Now it looks like
Along County Road 305 on the south
side of Jarrell, roofs were blown off metal buildings
behind Jarrell Farm Supply. Dead cows lay in a field.
Mailboxes were torn off posts. Wooden planks were driven
through metal that used to be a highway guardrail. Tonya
Wagers said she was watching a soap opera when she looked
out the window and saw the funnel. "At first it was
thin and narrow, but then it hit the ground and spawned
two other tornadoes," she said. Wagers said she
escaped in her truck, but when she came back nothing was
left but a cage for the dog. "I'm alive and my
husband's alive, but our house is gone and we had a van
and three trucks and five dogs and they are all gone.'
"It's very possible we have people trapped out
there," said Richards, the sheriff. "I don't
know what we may still find. ... It looks like a war
zone. This is a devastating scene." Shopping center
crushed By 4:15 p.m., the tornado moved south and tore
through Cedar Park, crushing the shopping center that
Albertson's anchors at the corner of U.S. 183 and FM
1431. A husband and wife were taken to Round Rock
Hospital with undetermined injuries. A 51-year-old male
employee was taken to Brackenridge Hospital by STAR
Flight helicopter. Dogs located the employee, and
authorities used heat-sensing equipment to look for other
They later suspended the search,
awaiting equipment from Texas A&M University to help
them safely work through the debris. The equipment
allowed them to drill into the collapsed roof and thread
a camera and microphone into the rubble.
"It probably will be a long
night," said DPS trooper Tom Mobley. An hour after
the tornado hit, stunned customers at the shopping center
said fast action by employees saved them from injury or
death. Terry Meares of Lago Vista was in the check-out
line when someone yelled that the tornado was coming. He
and other customers said they were sent to the rear of
the store, near the freezers. Then the roof fell.
"I laid down on the floor by
the freezer locker, and the world blew open," Meares
said. "I've been through two wars and I haven't been
through something like this.'' Meares stood outside with
a bandaged right arm and cuts all over his body, picking
glass out of his shirt. " I'm going to go home and
sit down and have a damn good drink and say 'Hey, you got
Outside in the parking lot, glass
from shattered windows littered the ground. A pickup was
slammed against a retaining wall, its front wheels in the
air. June Price was in the
shopping center's Blockbuster Video.
"You could see it come down
and go back up, come down and go back up. We knew it was
going to hit because you could hear a loud roaring
noise,'' Price said. "It was all over within a
matter of seconds.''
Parts of the video store's roof
collapsed, shelves were upended, and two plate glass
walls were shattered. Price credited store employees with
saving roughly a dozen customers from harm by taking them
into a back room.
In moments, it was quiet again.
Then the sirens approached. The Cedar Park Fire
Department and police arrived, joined by Austin police,
Williamson and Travis County sheriffs' deputies,
Department of Public Safety troopers, Leander volunteer
firefighters, Round Rock police, and Austin and
Williamson County Emergency Medical Services.
Creek development near Cedar Park also was hit hard.
Shingles and uprooted trees littered the streets as some
residents filmed the wreckage with camcorders. Some
houses were destroyed and others were seriously damaged.
Roofs collapsed, and a beam jutted from one house like a
By 8 p.m., state troopers had
blocked every street in Buttercup Creek north of
Buttercup Creek Boulevard, allowing only residents into
the subdivision to prevent looting. Troopers went
house-to-house, marking Xs on houses without injuries.
Two deaths in Travis Around 6 p.m., a tornado ripped
through the Hazy Hills development, about 15 miles west
of Austin on Texas 71, killing one person. Authorities
identified the dead man as 25-year-old Kevin Heisler, a
Hazy Hills resident. Travis County sheriff's department
spokesman Curtis Weeks said Heisler was found outside
about 125 yards from his home, which was damaged. Weeks
said authorities weren't sure if Heisler was in his home
when the twister hit. Several other homes in the
subdivision were destroyed, too, authorities said.
About 7 p.m., the body of a woman
was pulled from the rising waters of Shoal Creek near the
intersection of White Rock Drive and Shoal Creek
The woman, whose age and identity were not known, was
pronounced dead at the scene, said Sally Muir, Austin
Police spokeswoman. The woman's cause of death was not
known Tuesday. Police do not know how she got into the
Auto wreck injures four
About an hour later, a power outage at the intersection
of RM 2222 and RM 620 -- and perhaps alcohol -- caused a
two-car accident that left four people injured, one
The accident occurred at about 8:00 p.m. when a green
Jeep Grand Cherokee carrying two women and two young
girls attempted to make a left turn onto RM 2222 from RM
620. A maroon Chevrolet pickup traveling eastbound on 620
slammed into the Cherokee, ejecting the two girls and
pinning the women inside the car, which lodged against a
steel light pole.
One of the girls, who were flown to
Children's Hospital of Austin, was listed in critical
condition and the other was in serious condition Tuesday
night. The two women were in serious and fair condition,
respectively, at Brackenridge Hospital.
Police arrested the driver of the pickup, who was not
seriously injured, after he failed a sobriety test.
Investigators found two beer cans in the pickup, and DPS
trooper Tim Baker said it was traveling ''at a high rate
Witnesses said the driver of the
pickup didn't appear to realize that the traffic signal
wasn't working, and may have thought he had the
Austin power outages At the height of the storm as many
as 60,000 City of Austin customers were without power
from outages. As of 10:30 p.m., all but 20,000 had their
power restored, city officials said.
As in other storms in the past
year, the outages -- scattered across the city -- were
being caused mostly by tree limbs falling on the power
lines,saidSteve Collier, director of the office of
emergency management. Lightning strikes and other
storm-related calls sent the city's fire department on 63
calls in the two hours from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., said Fire
Capt. Florencio Soliz. But Soliz said there were no major
fires caused bythe storm. Also reported by
American-Statesman staff writers Bob Banta, Jodi
Berls, Laylan Copelin, Diana
Dworin, Greg Easterly, Stuart Eskenazi, Scott S.
Greenberger, Debbie Hiott, Leigh Hopper, Chuck Lindell,
Nichole Monroe, Claire Osborn, Dylan Rivera, Christine
Shirley, Starita Smith, Dick Stanley, Cara Tanamachi,
Tara Trower, MikeWard, Pamela Ward and Ben Wear.
Wayne Persky, a farmer from
Jarrell, Texas, looks over some of his farm machinery,
which was mangled by the same tornado that hit the town
on May 27. At least 27 people
were killed in Jarrell.
Thanks to the
Austin American Statesman for this Article!