AUSTIN — Preliminary surveys found at least 20 tornadoes ripped through Texas leaving crumbled buildings in their wake, according to National Weather Service data.
As of noon Wednesday, NWS confirmed 11 tornadoes touched down in North Texas and three in Central Texas with a potential additional five and two others, respectively, preliminary reports said.
“Please be patient as we compile information from the event,” NWS officials said.
Large swaths of Texas were pummeled by deadly and damaging tornadoes beginning Monday that have since moved north east impacting New Orleans late Tuesday, where at least one fatality has been reported.
Texas officials estimate thousands of structures have been damaged across the state including 1,000 homes in Williamson County, just north of Austin, and at least 80 homes and two schools in Jacksboro, just northwest of Fort Worth, officials said.
Williamson County experienced two tornadoes: one in Elgin and one in Round Rock-Granger. Each was preliminarily categorized as EF-2, or tornadoes with winds between 111 and 135 miles per hour. The Round Rock tornado reached a max wind speed of 135 MPH, while the Elgin tornado reached 130 MPH, the report said.
“As we study and look at additional photos, EF ratings could change,” the report said.
In North Texas, tornado speeds reached up to 150 MPH in Jacksboro and 130 MPH in Sherwood Shores, both near the Texas-Oklahoma border. At least eight other tornadoes hit ground in the surrounding counties, NWS reported.
Officials confirmed one death in Grayson County, just north of Dallas.
In Crockett, 10 have been reported injured after an EF-2 tornado struck the city located north of Huntsville. At least 30 structures have been damaged, officials said.
“Despite the travesty of what happened to property, it’s a miracle that nobody lost their life,” Abbott said during a press conference in Crockett on Wednesday. “Property can always be replaced; a life cannot be replaced.”
State officials continue to ask residents who experienced any damage from the tornado event to report it to the state website at www.damage.tdem.texas.gov.
Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said by doing so, the state will further be able to assess where needs are and potentially qualify for federal emergency relief aid.
“The way the federal government offers aid to states is based on a formula of population for the damages to infrastructure,” Kidd said. “We need about $15 million of uninsured loss statewide in order to get public assistance from FEMA.”
Kidd said that equates to about 800 uninsured homes that sustained major damage. He added that he and federal representatives are in constant communication to see if the state will meet minimum requirements.
“If we don’t, then I know it’s our volunteer organizations active in disaster that are already here in this county helping clean up and will help rebuild as well that we will lean on heavier in order to help people get back as fast as they can,” Kidd said.
On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a disaster declaration for 16 counties and vowed to offer state help where needed.
The counties included in the declaration are Bastrop, Cass, Cooke, Grayson, Guadalupe, Houston, Jack, Madison, Marion, Montague, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Upshur, Williamson and Wise.
“The reality is that most of these people are still in shock, and it’s going to take a few hours, if not a few days for people to come to a reckoning about what exactly is happening, what they need to grapple with and what they need to do in order to take next steps forward,” Abbott said.