Three Tornadoes Strike North Texas Causing Heavy Damage, Thousands Still Without Power | KERA News

Three Tornadoes Strike North Texas Causing Heavy Damage, Thousands Still Without Power

Oct 21, 2019

A tornado touched down Sunday night near Dallas Love Field before moving northeast through the city. The cyclone was among several in the area that caused damage to homes and businesses, and knocked out electricity to tens of thousands people.

The weather service has confirmed that three tornados touched down in North Texas. The one in Dallas is estimated to have had 140 mph maximum winds, consistent with an EF-3 tornado. The other two storms were an EF-1 in Rowlett and an EF-0 in Van Zandt County. 

Crews searched Monday through the rubble of buildings torn apart by the tornado that ripped through the area late Sunday.

There are no reports of fatalities or serious injuries, but Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans says three people were hospitalized for evaluation of non-life-threatening injuries.

At a press conference Monday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson thanked first responders and staff for working through the night to make sure people were safe. 

"We have a strong city, a resiliant city, and we're going to get through this," Johnson said.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared a local disaster Monday morning. The declaration will allow local authorities to get state resources to assist with fixing storm damage and restoring power service. 

Gov. Greg Abbott also issued a state disaster declaration Monday that included 16 Texas counties, among them Dallas, Colin, Ellis and Kaufman.

"My heart goes out to the Texans impacted by this severe weather," Abbott said. "And the people of Texas can rest assured that the state will do everything it can to assist those affected by these horrific storms."

Damage to the Iglesia Cristiana Emanuel - Dios Con Nosotros on Walnut Hill Ln and Betty Jane Ln in Dallas
Credit Hady Mawajdeh / KERA News

Tree limbs, street signs and power lines were scattered across roadways across parts of Dallas and neighboring suburbs, and several homes and businesses were damaged in northern Dallas.

The city of Dallas has a live map of road closures on their website

Nearly 140,000 electric customers were without power as of 4 a.m. Monday, according to Oncor's online outage map. Around 65,000 of the affected electric customers were in Dallas.

By 10:30 a.m. power had been restored to around 45,000 customers, of which 10,000 were in Dallas. At a city press conference, Oncor spokesperson Kerri Dunn said they did not yet have a timeline on when power would be restored to all areas, but were assessing the damage and would provide an update as soon as possible.

Dallas Independent School District closed 20 schools Monday due to extensive damage from the storm, including Thomas Jefferson High School, Hillcrest High School and Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. The district has a full list of school closures on their website

Damage to Walnut Hill Elementary in Dallas after Sunday's tornado.
Credit Alan Melson / KERA News

Richardson Independent School District has closed all campuses due to storm damage and lack of power. The school district said in a tweet that they anticipate being able to open schools Tuesday.

All schools in Midlothian were also closed, as well as four schools in Garland.

Early voting began Monday, but weather-related power outages closed two early voting locations. The Richland College Guadalupe Building is without power completely and is closed until further notice. The polling place at Marsh Lane Baptist Church Fellowship Hall is running on backup power and area storm damage may cause limited access to the building.

Dallas County voters can find more information about early voting on the county's election website.

ASSESSING THE DAMAGE

Crews searched through homes and businesses that were accessible for about six hours overnight, but were hampered by "limited access and lack of proper lighting," said Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans. A second set of teams were to resume search efforts in daylight.

Seven people escaped a structure that collapsed in northwest Dallas, but Dallas Fire-Rescue were searching to see if anyone was left inside, Evans said. WFAA-TV reported that a convenience store collapsed in the storm, but the clerk told the station that everyone who was inside made it out safely.

Evans said that the department had also received multiple calls from people injured in their homes by broken glass.

On Twitter, Dallas Fire-Rescue said one of its own stations sustained significant damage during the storms overnight, and included photos that appeared to show a collapsed roof and debris. Evans said none of the firefighters at Station 41 were hurt, but said the roof was torn off by the high winds.

Paul Voelker, mayor of the city of Richardson,  said they sustained "a significant amount of damage" that has severely impacted many residents. 

"We have mobilized every department in the City," Voelker said. "We are also working with local power and gas utilities to support their efforts."

Northeast of Dallas, the city of Sachse said in a release that six houses were damaged from the storms, but no injuries were reported.

Godwin, the meteorologist, said the size and severity of the tornado won't be known until crews arrive to survey the damage. NWS warning coordination meteorologist Jennifer Dunn told the Assocated Press there may have been two or more tornadoes in north Texas, but reiterated that the extent wouldn't be known until later Monday afternoon.

Storms also caused damage in parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. 

One person died in northwest Arkansas when a tree fell on a home in Rogers, about 150 miles northwest of Little Rock, according to the Benton County Department of Public Safety.

Domini Davis and the Associated Press contributed to this report.