Veterans Lose Uniforms in Denair Tornado

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DENAIR--

In the aftermath of the tornado that struck the town of Denair Sunday afternoon, residents worked Monday to restore a sense of normalcy while the National Weather Service surveyed the damage in its entirety.

The EF1 tornado damaged 21 homes, only two, however, suffered major structural damage. At its worst point, the storm left all 1,700 energy customers without power.

Despite the tree branches and pieces of home debris that remain along Denair's streets, there is a palpable sense of positivity and community among those who have suffered structural loss.

"We've all been joking, we're Californians. We know to hide under tables for an earthquake, we don't know what to do with a tornado," Lydia Beccard said.

Beccards backyard resembles a junkyard, as piles of tools and homemade crafts lay scattered across her lawn, covered in blue and black tarp.

Despite the precarious situation, Beccard maintains her smile, and says everything she lost in tornado is replaceable.

"There's a couple windows cracked, it's going to need a new roof. The porch is a little saggy but other than that, it's livable. It could've been much worse," Beccard said.

Neighbors haven't been shy about lending a helping hand, according to Beccard. Some even fed her dog yesterday when he got out, after her fence blew away.

"It's one of the benefits of living in a small town is, everybody, you know you keep an eye on each other's stuff," she said.

"Our pool was over here. Now it's right there right now covering our stuff, that's where our shed was," Adrienne Bayless said as she walked through her yard.

While no one was injured, some in Denair, like Bayless are hurting today. She and her husband are both military veterans. Their uniforms blew away with their shed once the tornado hit.

"The uniforms are basically what's missing right now. It means a lot to me, it's irreplaceable, I can never get that stuff back," Bayless said.

They walked through town today looking for any sign of their military garb, hopeful, but knowing they'll be hard to find.

"I have memories, I have pictures. That's what matters I guess," Bayless said.

"We've been very lucky I think that there haven't been injuries because if you look at the metal roofing, the trees down here from this experience. The windows blown out, these can cause injuries or worse," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Eric Kurth.

Kurth says an EF1 tornado is relatively strong, especially for California standards. Wind speeds measured near 100 mph.

Kurth says the storm came and went so fast, NWS could not get a clear radar reading of it, and therefore never issued an alert in Denair.

"We did see a signature very briefly that suggested some rotation but nothing saying this is definitely a tornado."

The tornado spun through two miles of Stanislaus County by NWS estimates. It ran through Zeering Denair's most active road, all the way to the county line.

Sergeant Anthony Bejaran says considering the tornado's strength, the town's people are fortunate there were no injuries.

"This tornado traveled in one of the heaviest populated roads in Denair, the fact that nobody was injured is amazing," said Bejaran.

Bejeran says power lines are up and functioning, and all but a handful of homes have power restored.