Twisters, Flash Floods In Texas: Many Injured, Homes Destroyed, No Power, Roads Under Water
On Monday morning, Texas awoke after a night that saw more than saw devastating damage across several Texas counties from tornadoes, flooding and severe storms. Given that the National Weather Service forecasts currently indicate the possibility of more severe thunderstorms, hail, damaging winds, flash floods and twisters across Texas into Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced an elevated activation of the Texas State Operations Center (SOC).
By Monday evening, Gov. Abbott had declared a state of disaster in several Texas counties hit in recent days by severe weather — Bosque, Clay, Denton, Eastland, Gaines, Montague and Van Zandt counties. The declaration authorizes further mobilization of state resources to assist impacted communities.
The severe weather moving through Texas over the last several days has included a tornado that killed at least two people in the East Texas town of Van on Sunday night. A tornado that hit the town of Cisco west of Fort Worth on Saturday night and killed at least one person.
“We urge Texans to closely monitor the changing weather conditions in their area and heed warnings from local officials, as these storms have the potential to bring dangerous flash flooding, damaging winds and hail, and the possibility for tornadoes.” Gov. Abbott said in a statement. “Ensuring the safety of Texans is paramount, and the state stands ready to provide support to our local leaders as this weather system moves through our state.”
The governor’s statement added that state resources would be available for rapid deployment as needed to assist local officials, and encouraged residents to prepare for severe weather in their area.
AP adds from Van, Texas — East Texas woke Monday to find about two dozen people were injured and many homes destroyed after a severe storm struck the small town of Van, an emergency management official said. The storm that the National Weather Service said likely produced a tornado hit the east side of Van Zandt County and the city of Van around 8:45 p.m. Sunday.
Chuck Allen, the Van Zandt County fire marshal and emergency management coordinator, said in an email early Monday that approximately 26 patients were transported to hospitals after a triage area was established at a church.
The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear. About 30 percent of the city suffered some kind of damage, he said. “Damages range from completely destroyed homes, damaged homes, to trees and power lines down,” Allen wrote.
Allen said authorities were going door to door in the city about 70 miles southeast of Dallas, performing a second search for additional injured individuals.
Utility companies are working to restore “vital infrastructures,” and road and bridge crews are working to open streets and highways to allow for first responder access, he said.
The American Red Cross planned to open a shelter at First Baptist Church in Van, Allen said. Calls to the church rang unanswered early Monday. The Van Independent School District said on its website schools would be closed Monday.
The National Weather Service believes at least one tornado hit Van on Sunday night, senior meteorologist Eric Martello said. Weather Service crews will survey the area after daybreak Monday. The storm was part of severe weather that stretched across North Texas on Sunday.
Another Tornado, Flash Floods
Earlier in the day, another likely tornado ripped roofs off buildings and damaged trees near Denton, about 40 miles northwest of Dallas, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Bradshaw. There were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities.
The area also experienced torrential rains that led to widespread flash flooding. Authorities in Denton County said Sunday that two groups of people had to be airlifted by helicopters to safety.
Elsewhere, police say two people died from storms in southwestern Arkansas. KSLA-TV reports the Howard County Sheriff's Office has confirmed two people were killed Sunday night in Nashville, which is about 50 miles north of Texarkana.
Howard County Sheriff Brian McJunkins says the victims lived in adjoining mobile homes. He says two other people were critically injured. The TV station says there were reports of tornado sightings in the area Sunday as well as reports of heavy damage to homes and power outages.
Tornadoes were also reported in central Iowa, where a roof was ripped off a high school, and in eastern South Dakota, where a twister damaged the small town of Delmont and injured at least nine people. “Our house is flat. There is nothing left,” said Stephanie Lunder, 34, of Delmont. She was with her husband and four children in the basement when the storm hit.
The town about 90 miles southwest of Sioux Falls had no water, power or phones, South Dakota Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Kristi Turman said. The 200-plus residents were asked to leave for safety reasons.