Multiple tornadoes across Texas, Oklahoma, and specified areas of Arkansas wrought major destruction on Friday. They uprooted homes, flattened public buildings, and, unfortunately, claimed at least one life. Some officials in various regions across the state have reported “total destruction.”
According to the New York Post, tornadoes inflicted serious damage in McCurtain County, OK. McCurtain County is located in the southeastern region of the state. The small town of Idabel was completely slammed by tornadoes. Severe weather demolished a church, a medical center, and a school. The county’s emergency manager, Cody McDaniel, further confirmed the single reported death so far, though he didn’t offer details.
McCurtain County’s Emergency Management Coordinator Steven Carter spoke about the severity of the tornadoes that touched down Friday afternoon.
“There was total destruction on the south and east sides of Idabel,” he said. He also reported that people across the town were still trapped late Friday night. Governor Kevin Stitt authorized search and rescue teams to deploy aid to affected Oklahomans following the tornadoes.
Across the OK border, dozens of Texas homes were also damaged or destroyed by the tornadoes. Lamar County authorities reported a total of at least 50 affected structures. In the aftermath of the storms, the news outlet also reported that 10 people were taken to a single hospital for treatment. Two of those individuals sustained critical injuries. Lamar County judge Brandon Bell—the highest elected official county-wide—immediately declared a state of disaster. There were two dozen people in total injured.
Multiple Texas Communities Affected by Severe Tornadoes
While Idabel, OK endured extreme devastation following Friday’s tornadoes, multiple Texas communities along the Sooner State’s border were also affected. Several include Hopewell, Caviness, Beaver Creek, and Powderly. Of the four, Powderly seemed to sustain the most damage.
Per the outlet, Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management crew reported the tornado’s touchdown around 4 p.m. on Friday. The tornado then traveled north-northeast through Texas, ravaging Hopewell, Caviness, Beaver Creek, and Powderly. Powderly, TX is located 45 miles west of the devastated town of Idabel and 120 miles northeast of Dallas.
Randi Johnson, Powderly Volunteer Fire Department Chief, could not confirm any deaths in the area though she did confirm that multiple people had sustained varying levels of injuries. She further said of the destruction, “It’s going to take a long time to get this cleaned up, but the community came together.” Still, “It’s really heartbreaking to see.”
As Texas and Oklahoma residents wait to head and survey the full extent of tornado damage done to their homes, churches in both states have begun to serve as temporary shelters.
Before tornadoes touched down across the southern states, forecasters at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center also expected various regions to endure strong winds and scattered hail.