(Sean Breslin) At least 11 people were killed by several massive tornadoes that ravaged the Dallas area Saturday night, the latest tragedy in what has become a week-long outbreak of severe weather.
KXAS-TV said five of the deaths occurred near the intersection of Interstate 30 and the President George Bush Turnpike in Garland, a large city northeast of Dallas that is a part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, according to authorities. At least three of the five victims were believed to be in vehicles at the time, Garland Police Lt. Pedro Barineau told the Associated Press Sunday morning. There were also multiple injuries reported at an apartment building south of I-30, he said, but the injuries were not considered life-threatening.
“This is a huge impact on our community and we’re all suffering,” Barineau said.
Two additional deaths occurred about 17 miles to the north in unincorporated Copeville. Amy Cortez of the Nevada Volunteer Fire Department told The Weather Channel the two people died when a gas station along State Highway 78 was destroyed by winds likely associated with the same tornado that struck Garland minutes earlier.
WFAA-TV in Dallas showed video of damage to homes, a church and vehicles in Garland from what is believed to be a separate tornado that struck Glenn Heights. In total, about 600 structures were damaged by the twisters and more than 60 injuries have been reported, officials said.
Search and rescue efforts continued Sunday in the damaged areas east and northeast of Dallas. In addition to the tornadoes, flooding was reported in the St. Louis area as well as parts of several other states.
Here are some of the biggest impacts from the warm side of Winter Storm Goliath. All times are Central Standard Time unless otherwise noted.
Eleven people have been confirmed dead from the round of tornadoes that tore through North Texas on Saturday night. One of those killed was an infant in Blue Ridge, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Eight people were killed in the town of Garland, and two people died in Copeville.
The twisters hit a part of the state that’s no stranger to damaging tornadoes, but some residents were stunned by the scope of devastation left behind. Debra Smith, 62, told the Dallas Morning News she took shelter in a bathtub of her third-floor apartment in Garland as the storms rolled through.
“That was the scariest moment I’ve ever had in my life,” she told the Dallas Morning News. “I’m a Texas girl, and I never had one like this before.”
Just east of the Dallas city limits, emergency officials were sent to a trailer park in Sunnyvale, after they received reports of mobile homes ablaze and injured residents. Dallas County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Melinda Urbina told the AP that many of the homes in the area were so damaged that they were likely uninhabitable, and the Red Cross also responded to the scene.
One tornado was reported in Ovilla and Desoto, and also reportedly struck portions of Midlothian, Waxahachie, Glenn Heights.
Stephanie Parker, the emergency manager for Ellis County, which is about 30 miles south of Dallas, posted on Twitter: “We have destroyed and damaged homes. Please do not get out on the roads if you do not have to.”
Less than an hour later, The Weather Channel broadcast live video of a cone-shaped tornado in progress near Sunnyvale, beginning at 6:46 p.m. The long-track tornado smashed northward, nicking the southeast corner of Garland, where several of the deaths occurred, before roaring through neighboring Rowlett. It then crossed parts of Rockwall and Collin counties, passing near Farmersville and causing major damage there, according to local fire officials relaying information to the National Weather Service.
Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel issued a State of Disaster declaration Sunday morning after the town suffered extreme damage from a tornado Saturday night. City Manager Brian Funderburk said 23 people were injured, and a 24-hour curfew was in place for affected areas.
“Oh my God, the adrenaline was moving so fast; we were just holding on to each other and just praying,” Rowlett resident Evanne Dalton told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
A third tornado was reported by a trained spotter just northeast of Ennis in Ellis County around 8 p.m. Crews from the NWS will survey damaged areas starting Sunday to determine how many tornadoes were spawned in North Texas, as well as the strength of those twisters.
At least 52,000 Oncor electricity customers were without power across Texas at one point Saturday evening, with 30,000 of those in Dallas County alone. Crews chipped away at the power failures later in the evening, but more than 13,000 customers still lacked electricity Sunday morning.
In addition to the tornado damage, flash flooding was reported across much of Dallas County due to heavy rainfall.
Flooding was reported across the St. Louis area Saturday, and several people had to be rescued from the rising waters. In Chesterfield, west of downtown St. Louis, a man had to be rescued from a tree as floodwaters rose Saturday evening, Fox 2 News reported.
The man and a child were swept away by the flooding, the report added, and the child was later found safe at a neighbor’s home.
Red Cross shelters were opened to house residents forced from their homes by the flooding, according to a separate Fox 2 News report.
More than 3 inches of rain fell in many areas, and the NWS reported flooded roads in parts of Franklin County. The city of Eureka, along Interstate 44 in St. Louis County, also experienced flooding.
The National Weather Service relayed reports of water rescues in Monett, in the southwestern part of the state, Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, an apartment complex for senior citizens in the town of Sarcoxie was evacuated due to rising floodwaters, according to a separate NWS storm report. There were no injuries and the evacuations were just precautionary, officials confirmed to The Weather Channel.
Sarcoxie is about 20 miles east of Joplin.
The heavy rainfall that affected St. Louis also hit its suburbs across the Mississippi River in southwest Illinois.
Social media showed water ponding in a residential backyard in Granite City on Saturday.
The National Weather Service said a tornado was reported in a rural area of McClain County near Byars just before 2 p.m. Saturday.
Flooding was expected to cause major problems across the state as the storm system dumped huge rainfall totals, and officials warned residents to stay home and off roadways, the Tulsa World reported. Authorities reported more accidents than usual, which they blamed on the weather, the report added. Several interstates and highways were closed by high water levels, as well.
A few thousand customers were without power Saturday night across the state, the Tulsa World also reported.