Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said the storm did not cause any injuries that he was aware of, but some damage was extensive.
“There is stuff like insulation and tin blowing all over the place, and that wind is bitterly cold,” he said Wednesday morning.
Taylor said the damage was mostly in the area around Crockett Road.
The Wal-Mart Distribution Center at 401 Old Elkhart Road parallel to Crockett Road had a large section of the roof ripped off as the storm passed through about 6:40 p.m. Tuesday.
Taylor said the damage also included the Crockett Road Church of Christ.
The church is adjacent to the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, and debris from the center flew into the church parking lot and through a church door, Palestine Fire Chief Alan Wileher said.
Wileher estimated 30,000 to 40,000 square feet of roofing material came off the distribution center.
He said workers in the center at the time heard a loud rumble and said the storm sounded like a freight train.
It may have been straight line winds or a microburst, the fire chief said, but the church minister said a woman passing the church at the time of the storm believes she and her daughter saw a tornado funnel dip down.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t a tornado, but what everyone is saying at this time points to winds as being what caused the damage,” he said.
A glass door in the church auditorium was busted out. Debris from Wal-Mart, insulation, leaves and other material blew into the church auditorium and landed in a pile in the church parking lot, Minister Dan Manuel said. A utility pole also was broken off.
Workers removed what blew in, the door was patched and the church planned to have its Wednesday night service as usual. The door will be fixed today, Manuel said.
Also, Wal-Mart planned to send a crew in today to remove the distribution center debris from the church parking lot, the minister said.
The distribution center, which houses shoes and clothing, has been closed since shortly after the severe weather struck, Kayla Whaling, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said.
“We are very thankful that there were no reported injuries and everyone seems to be doing OK,” she said.
“We’re still assessing the damage to both the facility and the merchandise. We are fully engaged in the situation and have folks on the ground to survey the damage. We are working with structural engineers and experts to help ensure safety,” Ms. Whaling said.
“We expect to be back up and running as soon as possible,” she added, but could not say when the distribution center might reopen.
Wal-Mart has a disaster program in place to assist associates when something like this occurs and is providing that information to them, Ms. Whaling said.