At least seven people were killed and dozens injured Saturday after tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and floods ripped Texas, Missouri and Arkansas, as well as parts of the Midwest.
In east Texas, the National Weather Service confirmed that at least three tornadoes swept through Henderson, Van Zandt and Rains counties, covering an area about 60 miles southeast of Dallas. The weather agency said damage surveys on Sunday would reveal whether there were additional tornadoes.
At least five people died in Van Zandt County, including one along Interstate 20 in the small city of Canton, which appeared to be hit the hardest on Saturday, according to NBC DFW News.
“I was driving along from east to west on I-20 and I saw the big, black wall kind of to (the) south of interstate,” Dallas resident Erin Stevenson told Weather Nation. “I was on the phone with my boyfriend, and I said, could you please look up if there’s a tornado warning here? And I heard him say yes. And I immediately exited just in time.”
“We won’t know what exactly we are dealing with until the sun comes up,” Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett told the NBC DFW News on Saturday night. “We have no power. We have three major transmission stations that are damaged.”
Hospitals in the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System treated 56 patients after the storm, spokeswoman Rebecca Berkley told The Washington Post. Two remained in critical condition as of Saturday morning, while the other patients had injuries that were not life-threatening, she said.
Images of a Dodge dealership along I-20 in Canton showed overturned cars, piles of debris and a destroyed building, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Twitter that he would send Texas Task Force 2, a search-and-rescue team, to assist the areas affected by the storms.
A Facebook user named Jody Vincik said he was about a mile outside Eustace, Tex., when he and his companions spotted a massive tornado twisting through the area. They stopped to capture footage of the storm and broadcast it on Facebook Live.
In Missouri, the National Weather Service warned of a “dangerous and life threatening flood event” for the southern part of the state and portions of far-southeastern Kansas on Saturday and Sunday. Several flash-flood warnings were issued throughout Missouri.
A 72-year-old woman drowned near Clever, a city in southwest Missouri, after floodwaters swept her vehicle away, the Kansas City Star reported. The Missouri Highway Patrol said the woman’s body was discovered after floodwaters receded, according to the paper.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) encouraged residents to stay home and declared a state of emergency in response to the flash flooding.
On Saturday, the governor’s office reported that there had been 93 evacuations and 33 rescues.
“Thank you to our first responders for their courageous and capable work to keep Missouri families safe and to protect property,” Greitens said in a statement. “Together, we took early action to prepare for this storm, and our pre-staged rescue teams are now executing operations across Missouri. Please stay safe and stay away from rising water.”
In Arkansas, to the south, the Weather Service continued to issue severe thunderstorm and flash-flood warnings throughout the state on Sunday. Torrential rains had pummeled much of the state on Saturday, triggering flash floods and closing roads.
In DeWitt, a small city in eastern Arkansas, one woman was killed after a tree fell on her mobile home Saturday evening, Fox 16 News reported.
Severe storms also hit parts of Oklahoma, Illinois and Indiana, according to the Weather Channel. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) declared a state of emergency there Saturday.