Five people were dead and dozens left injured following tornadoes in parts of east Texas Saturday night.
“We’re talking about I think maybe five casualties,” he said. “That number may go up … once we can get into these areas.”
The storms left behind a trail of overturned vehicles, mangled trees and damaged homes in and around Canton, which is about 50 miles east of Dallas.
Horton asked that people who didn’t need to be in the area to stay out, “so that our teams can do what they need to do to take care of these people who are in need.” He noted that a triage center was set up at the local high school.
ETMC Regional Healthcare Systems hospitals in the region received at least 54 patients following the storm, including one person in critical condition, spokeswoman Rebecca Berkley said. She said the other patients suffered injuries that were non-life threatening.
The extent of the damage in the area wasn’t immediately clear. But video from local television stations showed uprooted trees and overturned cars along rural, wet roadways, along with at least two flattened homes. The tornado flipped pickup trucks at a Dodge dealership in Canton and tore through the business.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Texas Task Force II, a search and rescue group, has been sent to help the Canton and Van Zandt areas.
The National Weather Service confirmed at least three tornadoes swept through parts of three counties Saturday evening.
The tornado that struck Canton grew to up to a half-mile wide as it teared up a 40-mile path, also hitting Fruitvale and Emory, KXAS-TV reported.
Local resident Ernestine Cook told WFAA-TV that she rushed to a storm center just in time.
“It hit so hard, so fast. It just kept moving,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it after 22 years of living here.”
A dispatcher at the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office said officers were chasing numerous injury reports and declined further comment