BALLINGER, Texas — On May 18, 2019, multiple strong tornadoes moved through West Texas. According to the National Weather Service in San Angelo, five tornadoes touched down in multiple counties.
Of these, two EF-2 tornadoes hit Abilene and San Angelo, respectively. These storms left homes destroyed and residents picking up the pieces.
The strongest storm spawned an EF-3 tornado with winds of 155 mph. This tornado formed near Rowena in Runnels County and moved northeast towards the town of Ballinger.
The tornado was on the ground for 18.9 miles and had a maximum width of one mile. Houses on the northwest side of Ballinger were demolished and left unhabitable. Miraculously, there was only one injury and zero fatalities. A year later, we revisit Ballinger and see how far it has come since the storm departed.
Damage can still be seen in parts of town. From debris scattered through fields to bare trees, evidence of May 18, 2019, still exists.
However, much of the damage is no longer seen. Residents have rebuilt and Ballinger has come back stronger than ever.
A water tower near Ballinger High School was destroyed, along with multiple bleachers in the tornado. A year later, new bleachers have been installed and a new water tower stands tall. A testament to the strength and resilience of the town.
Although this day will be remembered for the destruction it caused, many will think of the brave residents who came out to help those in need almost instantly and the multiple stories of heroism that residents still hold onto.
Directly after the tornado hit, neighbors were helping neighbors and everyone was helping dig through debris. This helped the recovery effort go much quicker and smoother, and gave hope to residents that had just lost everything.
All-in-all, the Ballinger tornado reminded us all what it means to be a West Texan.