Tornadoes Devastate Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas: At Least 18 Dead
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Hugo Parra, of Farmers Branch, Texas, collects belongings from his vehicle after he rode out a tornado with about 40 others in the bathrooms of a truck stop the previous night, Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Valley View, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

By The Smartencyclopedia Staff Writer with Agencies

At least 18 people, including two children, have been killed in powerful storms that ravaged Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas in the central US, destroying homes and plunging thousands into darkness amid rising temperatures.

In Cooke County, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, seven fatalities were reported after a tornado tore through a rural area near a mobile home park on Saturday night. “It’s just a trail of debris left. The devastation is pretty severe,” Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington said. Among the dead were two children, aged two and five, and three members of a family.

Sheriff Sappington warned that the death toll might rise as search and rescue operations continued for missing individuals on Sunday morning. Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated that approximately 100 people were injured by the tornado, noting that the exact toll was “hard to tell with certainty.” Over 200 houses and other buildings were destroyed, and more than 100 others were damaged. “I’d be shocked if those numbers do not increase,” Abbott added.

The tornado wreaked havoc, tearing apart houses and businesses, flipping mobile homes, and knocking down trees and power lines, particularly affecting areas near the community of Valley View, about an hour north of Dallas by car. The tornado also overturned vehicles and shut down a stretch of highway in the greater Dallas area. Multiple people were transported to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter in Denton County, though the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear. Valley View Police Chief Justin Stamps reported that the death toll in that community could be as high as six.

Hugo Parra, a resident of Farmers Branch, north of Dallas, recounted riding out the storm with about 40 to 50 people in a gas station’s bathroom.

The storms left more than 470,000 people without power across states stretching from Texas to Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, according to a power outage tracking website.

In Oklahoma, the storms claimed two lives and damaged houses, including injuring guests at an outdoor wedding. At least eight people, including a 26-year-old woman found dead outside a destroyed home in Olvey, a small community in Boone County, were reportedly killed in Arkansas, according to Daniel Bolen of the county’s emergency management office. The Arkansas Office of Emergency Management confirmed three deaths in Benton County.

Michael Dunham, deputy director of the Mayes County Emergency Management, confirmed two deaths in Oklahoma and stated that search and rescue efforts were ongoing, with teams going house to house. Widespread damage was reported in Claremore, where 23 people were injured. Nineteen of the injured, three with life-threatening injuries, were transported to local hospitals. The city was closed to traffic until noon on Sunday, except for residents with identification.

In Kentucky, at least one death was confirmed by Governor Andy Beshear.

Sunday was expected to be the hottest day with record-setting highs for late May in Austin, Brownsville, Dallas, and San Antonio, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Zack Taylor. Red Flag fire warnings were also in effect in West Texas, New Mexico, and parts of Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado, with very low humidity under 10 percent and wind gusts of up to 60 mph.

The severe weather system was anticipated to move east over the remainder of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. More severe storms were predicted in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, with a tornado emergency in effect in Kentucky on Sunday night. Forecasters warned that the risk of severe weather would move into North Carolina and Virginia on Monday.

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