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Texas officials begin assessing damage from weekend storms

Authorities are beginning to assess the extent of the damage left by Saturday's storms. An estimated EF-2 tornado touched down in Valley View in Cooke County.
Elizabeth Myong
Authorities are beginning to assess the extent of the damage left by Saturday's storms. An estimated EF-2 tornado touched down in Valley View in Cooke County.

Texas agencies are beginning to clean up and assess the damage left by storms that rolled across North Texas late Saturday night, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens more.

The National Weather Service said an estimated EF-2 tornado with winds up to 135 mph hit Cooke County near the Oklahoma Border. But it’s unclear how many tornadoes touched down during the storms, meteorologist Jennifer Dunn said during a news conference Sunday.

“It's a puzzle piece we're going to have to put together,” she said. “We still have work to do over the next 1 to 3 days to assess how many tornadoes” can be confirmed in Denton, Collin, Montague and possibly Hunt counties.

The storms left widespread damage, destroying homes and property — including a gas station in Valley View and a marina on Lake Ray Roberts in Denton County.

“There is so much damage, we don’t even know where to start,” marina management said in a Facebook statement Sunday morning. “Most RVs were turned over, and several people were trapped inside. All were rescued with no known serious injuries.”

Hundreds of thousands of people across the region had no power early on Monday, and other states were preparing for severe weather as the storm system moved east.

Authorities confirmed seven fatalities, including two children ages 2 and 5 from the same family. The identities of the victims have not been released, but Gov. Greg Abbott said at the news conference they range in age from 2 to 72.

“I am told there's no one reported missing,” he said. “That said, we are making one last round of searches to make sure there is no one missing.”

Abbott said the Texas Department of Transportation “has been working nonstop since the storm hit, working to clear lanes, remove debris and provide temporary traffic signals where needed.” The Texas Forest Service has also begun to clear debris.

We now move into a different stage as we respond to this devastating storm,” he said. “Texas will remain engaged and involved with these communities. Bill, that process is completed.”

He and other officials urge anyone impacted by the storm to contact their insurance company about coverage, and to report losses to the state in order to qualify for federal assistance. 

“We certainly are never going to stop until we overturn every rock and look over every piece of information to make sure that we maximize the potential benefit to our communities that are impacted and the individuals that have lost so much,” Kevin Starbuck, assistant chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said.

Four counties — Cooke, Denton, Montague and Collin — were added to Abbott’s disaster declaration first issued late last month following severe flooding in other parts of the state. That brings the total number of counties under disaster declaration to 106 — more than a third of all Texas counties.

KERA's Elizabeth Myong and Denton Record Chronicle's Juan Betancourt contributed to this report.

Nadya Faulx