Tornadoes ripped through parts of Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas late Friday, damaging homes and knocking out power to thousands as officials mounted search and rescue efforts, leaving at least one dead and several missing.
The dead man was in McCurton County in southeastern Oklahoma, where the town of Idabel sustained significant storm damage after a possible tornado hit, county emergency manager Cody McDaniel said. He said there were “several missing persons”.
Late Friday, authorities were trying to determine the extent of the damage and injuries, and McDaniel said, “It’s not good.”
In Texas, near the Oklahoma state border, at least 50 homes were damaged or destroyed in Lamar County as of Friday evening, the sheriff’s office said.
Tornado warnings were in effect Friday night for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri, meaning tornadoes were on the ground or indicated by weather radar. The weather service recommends residents in warning areas move to a safe place, such as a basement or an interior room.
A preliminary tally from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center showed nine tornadoes formed in Texas, four in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma as of Friday evening.
Overnight tornadoes can be especially dangerous because they can be difficult to see as they move rapidly through an area, making it more challenging to ensure residents are warned during those hours.
In addition, more than 90,000 As of early Saturday, power was out to homes and businesses across Arkansas, Louisiana, southeast Oklahoma and east Texas, according to Poweroutage.us.
Most of the reported Texas tornadoes occurred along the Red River border with Oklahoma, with extensive damage reported in two states.
A 45 mph tornado was spotted over Wrightsville in Pulaski County, Arkansas, south of Little Rock, the National Weather Service confirmed late Friday.
The number of reported tornadoes is likely to increase Saturday, and the intensity of each will not be known until local National Weather Service offices conduct damage surveys, which could take several days.
Tornado and severe thunderstorm watches remained in place for the region through Saturday morning.
Lamar County officials declared a disaster after a tornado tore through the area, injuring at least 10 people, according to a news release from the county’s sheriff’s office. No deaths have been reported.
Two of the injured were seriously injured, the sheriff’s office said. Earlier Friday, a first responder was injured and underwent surgery during the state’s storms, state constable Stephen Hill told CNN.
“There was quite a bit of damage and some injuries,” Lamar County Constable Travis Rhodes told CNN Friday night.
In nearby Hopkins County, at least four homes were damaged Friday, according to the county’s sheriff’s office.
A woman in Choctaw County, Oklahoma, was injured when a tree fell while trying to get to a storm shelter, Lewis Collins, a volunteer with the Choctaw Office of Emergency Management, told CNN. It is not clear if a tornado occurred in the area.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said he was praying for the victims of the tornado.
“Search and rescue teams and generators were directed to Idabel area,” he lamented. “Storms occurred in Bryan, Choctaw and Le Flore counties. Additional flash flooding in some areas. ”
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security forcing Residents to report storm damage online to help coordinate their response.