Tornadoes tore through parts of Texas and Oklahoma on Friday, killing at least one person, injuring two dozens others and leaving dozens of homes and buildings in ruins.
Tornadoes hit hard in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, in the southeastern corner of the state. Cody McDaniel, the county’s emergency manager, confirmed one death although he didn’t immediately provide details.
The small town of Idabel saw a church, medical center and a school torn apart.
“There was total destruction on the south and east sides of Idabel,” Steven Carter, an emergency management coordinator for McCurtain County, told the Texarkana Gazette.
Carter told the paper people were still trapped late Friday.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said search-and-rescue teams and generators were being sent to the Idabel area.
“Praying for Oklahomans impacted by today’s tornadoes,” Stitt tweeted.
Keli Cain of the Oklahoma Emergency Management Office said at least three other counties were also hit by storms, with flash flooding in some areas.
The National Weather Service said tornadoes also were reported in Texas and Arkansas and a storm system was heading toward Louisiana.
In Texas, authorities in Lamar County said at least 50 homes were damaged or destroyed and 10 people were treated at one hospital, including two with critical injuries. No deaths were immediately reported.
Judge Brandon Bell, the county’s highest elected official, declared a disaster in the areaa step in getting federal assistance and funding. Bell’s declaration said at least two dozen people were injured across the county.
One community hit hard was Powderly, about 45 miles west of Idabel and about 120 miles northeast of Dallas. Both Powderly and Idabel are near the Texas-Oklahoma border.
The Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management said the tornado touched down shortly after 4 p.m. and traveled north-northeast through the communities of Hopewell, Caviness, Beaver Creek and Powderly.
Randi Johnson, chief of the Powderly Volunteer Fire Department, told The Paris News newspaper that she wasn’t aware anyone had been killed but knew of injuries.
“It’s going to take a long time to get this cleaned up, but the community came together,” Johnson said. “It’s really heartbreaking to see.”
Churches opened their doors to serve as shelters for those whose homes were impacted.
Earlier, parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana were at risk of stormy conditions, including strong winds, hail and tornadoes Friday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.
At least 10 million people in that area were placed under a tornado watch by the weather service. It also issued a flash flood threat across parts of northeast Texas, southeast Oklahoma, and western Arkansas.
In Arkansascollege homecoming events were canceled and high school football games were delayed due to the threat of severe weather.
Storms across the southern Plains could ignite thunderstorms capable of developing tornados, according to Accuweather.
“All thunderstorm hazards will be possible, including an isolated tornado or two, large hail as well as damaging straight line thunderstorm wind damage,” University of Texas meteorology lecturer Troy Kimmel told the Austin-American Statesman, part of the USA TODAY Network.
The storms could also trigger power outages and cause property damage. In some extreme cases, they could pose some risk to lives, Accuweather said.
Contributing: The Associated Press