At least three people were killed and more than 50 injured Thursday when a tornado ripped through the Texas Panhandle city of Perryton, authorities said.
The tornado struck Perryton, which has a population of about 8,500, around 5:10 p.m., said Trent Hoffeditz, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Amarillo.
Perryton Fire Chief Paul Dutcher said three people were confirmed dead. A trailer park received a direct hit, he said.
The tornado caused “a lot of damage,” especially to mobile homes and businesses, Ochiltree County Sheriff Terry Bouchard said. NBC affiliate KAMR of Amarillo.
“It basically crossed the city of Perryton from the northwest to the southeast,” he told the station. Two people were missing, she said.
Ochiltree General Hospital, which is in Perryton, said that He had more than 50 patients.
Injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to the most serious, and several critically ill patients were transferred to other hospitals, hospital spokeswoman Amie Marrufo said.
Bouchard said about 56 people were treated at the hospital and released.
Video of a spectator it showed damage in downtown Perryton, trees snapped and homes damaged and destroyed, as well as at least one overturned truck.
“Please keep the Perryton community in your prayers,” said State Rep. Four Price, who represents the area. said on social media.
“A lot of structures are damaged,” Price said.
There was no power in the city, but generators kept the water service running, Mayor Kerry Symons said.
Gov. Greg Abbott said he has ordered the Texas Division of Emergency Management to send help, including engineers and road crews.
“We remain ready to rapidly provide additional resources needed during the course of this severe weather event,” Abbott said in a declaration. “I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for our fellow Texans who have been affected by this horrible storm. Stay safe, Texas.”
Two Texas urban search and rescue groups, Texas A&M Task Force 1 and Task Force 2, were dispatched to the area under the direction of the state’s Division of Emergency Management, said Merribeth Kahlich, a spokeswoman for Texas A&M.
Meteorologists believe a tornado hit the city based on videos and photos. Its strength will not be known until damage studies are done, Hoffeditz said.
The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for Perryton, later saying a tornado had been confirmed north of the city.
Emergency managers and other officials in Hansford County, which sits next to Ochiltree County, where Perryton is located, were wanted and prepared to respond to a mass casualty or recovery event, the Hansford County judge said. , or CEO, Tim Glass.
The sheriff’s office in nearby Hutchinson County was among the agencies that said they would travel to the Perryton area to help. The sheriff’s office said on Facebook that it was “a devastating tornado.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said his team was monitoring the situation in Perryton.
“Heidi and I are praying for the community, first responders and families affected by the storm,” Cruz said in a statement.
It was an unusually wet May in the Texas Panhandle, and the instability and rising humidity helped create the conditions for a thunderstorm, Hoffeditz said. A higher level system also played a role.
“The environment was set for one to happen,” Hoffeditz said. “It’s unfortunate that it hit a populated area like Perryton.”
The tornado was reported Thursday as tornado warnings covered northern and central Texas and much of Oklahoma due to severe weather sweeping through the region, according to the weather service.
By Wednesday night, the storms had left the Panhandle, the weather service in Amarillo said. Tornado watches were in effect for a portion of Texas that included the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Damage surveys will be conducted to determine the strength of the tornado and its rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, Hoffeditz said.