Tornadoes, bad weather as severe storms move east on Memorial Day


A wave of severe storms and tornadoes ravaged a wide swath of the South over the weekend and killed at least 19 people in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky. Those same storms threaten to overshadow Memorial Day plans on the East Coast.

At least eight people died in Arkansas, seven in Texas, four in Kentucky and two in Oklahoma amid storms and storms that toppled hundreds of homes, officials said.

Seven people died in Texas, including two children

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed Sunday that seven people were killed and at least 100 injured in the state after severe weather and tornadoes hit North Texas about 70 miles north of Fort Worth.

Two children, ages 2 and 5, were among the dead, Cook County Sheriff Ray Sappington said.

He told a local news station that the tornado touched down in parts of southern Cook County and Denton County on Saturday night. WFAA. He said 60 to 80 people were sheltering from the storm at a travel center.

“It took a while to get back there because the power lines were damaged and the trees were down,” he said.

At least 200 homes and buildings were destroyed and 120 were damaged amid tornado activity that swept through about 50 square miles of Texas, Abbott said. He said he would be “shocked” if the numbers don’t increase as damage assessments continue.

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The damage comes just days after another round of tornadoes wreaked havoc in central Texas, crushing power lines and roofs.

“The hopes and dreams of Texas families and small businesses have been crushed by storm after storm,” Abbott said Sunday.

Abbott included Denton, Montague, Cook and Collin counties in North Texas in a disaster declaration issued earlier this month. After the weekend’s severe weather, the declaration now has 106 counties.

Abbott said Texas A&M Task Force 1 will continue to conduct search and rescue operations. Government agencies are also working to clear debris and provide relief to affected communities.

Many disaster relief organizations have sent volunteers to help with relief efforts. The Salvation Army said it has mobilized three mobile kitchens to three hard-hit counties in North Texas. “Our mobile kitchen teams can provide not only physical nourishment, but also emotional and spiritual support to help survivors rebuild their lives,” Maj. Dwayne Durham, the organization’s incident commander, said in a news release Sunday.

The American Red Cross of North Texas announced in X that it has opened a shelter in Valley View, Cook County, for residents who lost their homes.

Further: ‘Dangerous out there’: 15 dead as cyclone hits several states in South: Updates

Arkansas has 2 deaths and 8 deaths in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, severe storms killed two people in Brier, about 50 miles east of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management confirmed. About 8,400 people lost power due to the storm.

A tornado in Claremore, Oklahoma, “caused significant widespread damage,” including “downed trees, power lines and essential damage to homes,” city manager John Fieri said at a news conference Sunday.

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The storms injured 23 people in the city, including three with life-threatening injuries, Fieri said, and prompted local police to close roads until Sunday afternoon. The Red Cross also opened two shelters in the area after the storm.

At least eight people died in Arkansas after tornadoes swept through the northwest part of the state. The National Weather Service confirmed Sunday night that an EF-3 tornado struck near the city of Decatur, about 10 miles east of the Oklahoma border.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday signed an emergency order allocating $250,000 for disaster relief.

“I think people need to be very patient and understand that we’re not going to recover from this thing overnight,” Arkansas Representative Steve Womack said at a news conference Sunday.

1 person died in Kentucky

At least one person in Kentucky was reported dead after severe storms swept through Louisville on Sunday afternoon. The NWS confirmed at least one tornado in Mayfield, in the southwest corner of the state.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency early Monday morning.

“Severe weather continues to move across the Commonwealth with many reports of wind damage and tornadoes,” he wrote in a post to X after midnight.

With about 78,000 people without power across the state as of Monday morning, 700 line crews and support crews will travel to the state to assist in the effort to restore power. The Louisville Courier-Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, reports.

Further: Wildfires in the Southwest as Central, South American brace for severe weather on Memorial Day

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The storm is expected to move eastward on Memorial Day

The storm is expected to weaken as it moves over the eastern coast and southeast coast on Monday. However, some damaging winds and the risk of an isolated tornado expected in the afternoon could upend Memorial Day plans across the East Coast.

Isolated severe thunderstorms are expected to return to parts of central Texas and Oklahoma Monday afternoon and continue overnight, according to the National Weather Service.

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for parts of Georgia and South Carolina through Monday afternoon – the weather service said the area could see up to 1 inch of hail and one or two tornadoes.

Wind gusts of up to 75 mph are possible across southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana and parts of Mississippi and Alabama, AccuWeather said.

Contributed by: Reuters

Cybele Mayes-Osterman is a feature news reporter for USA Today. Reach her at [email protected]. Follow her on X @CybeleMO.

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