Tornadoes pound North Texas; 100 tractors, trailers damaged at Schneider yard

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | Wednesday, April 04, 2012

As many as 12 tornadoes caused massive damage in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Tuesday, April 3, tossing tractor-trailers in the air, and destroying homes and businesses.

Around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Schneider National’s operating center in Dallas was hit hard as tractors and trailers parked in the yard were lifted hundreds of feet in the air, then slammed to the ground.

Erin Elliott, a spokeswoman for Schneider National, told Land Line late Tuesday, April 3, that 254 trucks and 204 trailers were parked at the yard when the Dallas terminal found itself in the path of one of the tornadoes.

Elliott said on Wednesday that while approximately 100 pieces of equipment parked in the yard sustained extensive damage, none of the 65 office and maintenance staff who work at the facility were injured. She added that between 200 to 300 truck drivers visit the terminal each day and that none of the drivers were injured. She said there was no damage to the building.

“We are working with customers to transfer and redirect loads and freight impacted by the storm,” Elliott said in a statement on Wednesday. “The storm’s impact to freight, our customers and our operations overall appear to be minimal – a remarkable outcome in light of the force of the storm.”

Two Pilot Flying J facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were damaged by separate tornadoes on Tuesday.

Lauren Christ, spokeswoman for Pilot Flying J, said that the Pilot Travel Center on Lancaster Road and the Flying J Travel Plaza on Bonnie View Road received minor damage on Tuesday.

“No Pilot Flying J associates or customers were injured during the storm, and operations and all fuel pumps are up and running at both locations,” Christ said in a statement.

A few miles away from the tornadoes’ path, some truck drivers waiting to be loaded at another facility on Tuesday found themselves without shelter when tornado sirens sounded.

On Tuesday, truck driver John Molitor of Pinedale, WY, had backed into a door at Mapei Corp. in Garland, TX, around 1 p.m. when tornado sirens sounded. He told Land Line that when the weather conditions worsened, he and another driver went inside to seek shelter, but that all of the office personnel were gone and the lights were off. As of press time on Wednesday, Land Line’s phone calls to Mapei had not been returned.

“It’s like everybody abandoned ship, but didn’t tell us where they were going,” Molitor said. “Obviously, they had an emergency plan and a tornado shelter, but said nothing to us drivers at the dock.”

Truckers, passengers and pets who find themselves in severe weather conditions in the Kansas City area are welcome to seek shelter at OOIDA headquarters in Grain Valley, MO. 

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