A tornado cut a 200-yard swath for about three miles through this northeast Texas city about 90 miles from Dallas yesterday, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 125, authorities said.
"We have houses unroofed, houses blown down and cars overturned," police Sgt. Joe Julian said. "We are in terrible trouble so far."
Julian said there was extensive damage in a 25- to 35-square-block section of this city of about 23,000 people. At least 100 homes were reported destroyed, and the nearby town of Blossom was reported "flattened."
Two sisters who had fled from apartments to the First Christian Church for shelter were killed when the tornado hit the church, Justice of the Peace Frank Finley said. A third sister was injured.
One woman whose home was leveled wandered around the home's foundation in a daze. "I'm always being so picky about taking care of things," she said, pausing. "What good does it do?"
She added: "It could have been worse. I could have been here."
City Manager Bob Sokoll said the city was faced with a lack of phone service, broken gas lines and a shortage of water. Julian said later that the city had run of out water.
The Paris twister was among three dozen tornadoes reported in states from the Mississippi Valley to the Great Plains, the National Weather Service said. At least 13 tornado deaths were reported in Arkansas.
Fred Ostby, director of the National Severe Storms Center, said that while the storm system was "a typical spring phenomenon," it was "one of the strongest we've seen in years."