At least 20 dead as storms carve path of destruction across southern US

27 May 2024, 14:34

A man looks at a damaged car after a tornado in Valley View, Texas
APTOPIX Severe Weather Texas. Picture: PA

The storms threaten to bring more violent weather to other areas.

Powerful storms have killed at least 20 people, injured hundreds and left a wide trail of destruction across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The storms inflicted their worst damage in a region spanning from north of Dallas to the north-west corner of Arkansas, and the system threatened to bring more violent weather to other areas.

By Monday, forecasters said, the greatest risk would shift to the east, covering a broad swathe of the country from Alabama to near New York City.

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear has declared a state of emergency in a post on social media platform X, citing “multiple reports of wind damage and tornadoes”.

Rubble of a destroyed home in Valley View, Texas
Rubble of a destroyed home in Valley View, Texas (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Seven deaths were reported in Cooke County, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, where a tornado ploughed through a rural area near a mobile home park on Saturday night, Texas governor Greg Abbott said at a news conference. The dead included two children, aged two and five. Three family members were found dead in one home, according to the county sheriff.

Storms also killed two people and destroyed houses in Oklahoma, where the injured included guests at an outdoor wedding, eight people in Arkansas and one person in Kentucky. Tens of thousands of residents were without power across the region.

In Texas, around 100 people were injured and more than 200 homes and structures destroyed, Mr Abbott said, speaking from near the small agricultural community of Valley View. The area was among the hardest-hit, with winds reaching an estimated 135mph, officials said.

“The hopes and dreams of Texas families and small businesses have literally been crushed by storm after storm,” said Mr Abbott, whose state has seen successive bouts of severe weather, including storms that killed eight people in Houston.

Damage at First Baptist Church in Claremore, Oklahoma
Damage at First Baptist Church in Claremore, Oklahoma (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP)

Hugo Parra, who lives in Farmers Branch, north of Dallas, said he rode out the storm with 40 to 50 people in the bathroom of the truck stop. The storm sheared the roof and walls off the building, mangling metal beams and leaving battered cars in the car park.

“A firefighter came to check on us and he said, ‘You’re very lucky,’” Mr Parra said. “The best way to describe this is the wind tried to rip us out of the bathrooms.”

Multiple people were transported to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter in Denton County, also north of Dallas.

No more deaths are expected and nobody was reported missing in Texas, Mr Abbott said, though responders were doing one more round of searches just in case.

Eight people died statewide in Arkansas, governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a news conference on Sunday evening. An emergency official said two of the deaths were attributed to the circumstances of the storm but not directly caused by weather, including a person who suffered a heart attack and another who was deprived of oxygen due to a loss of electricity.

The deaths included a 26-year-old woman who was found dead outside a destroyed home in Olvey, a small community in Boone County, according to Daniel Bolen of the county’s emergency management office. One person died in Benton County, and two more bodies were found in Marion County, officials said.

In Oklahoma, two people died in Mayes County, east of Tulsa, officials said.

In Kentucky, a man was killed on Sunday in Louisville when a tree fell on him, police said. Louisville mayor Craig Greenburg confirmed on social media it was a storm-related death.

By Press Association

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