Texas governor signs disaster declaration for 16 counties
Last updated 3/22/2022 at 4:32pm
Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a disaster declaration for 16 Texas counties where severe storms swept through Monday, tearing open schools and leveling homes.
A least one person, a 73-year-old Grayson County woman, died and more than a dozen, including 10 in Grayson County, were injured, The Associated Press reported.
The first significant weather event of the spring also dropped nearly 6 inches of snow across parts of the Texas Panhandle and left eastern New Mexico wet and windblown.
Monday and Tuesday saw wind gusts in the 50-mph range in Clovis-Portales, while most of the area saw nearly 1/10th of an inch of rain.
Thousands were without power in the Amarillo area on Tuesday morning; more than 6,000 were still reporting outages late Tuesday afternoon.
But the Dallas-Fort Worth area took the brunt of this week’s storm.
The National Weather Service confirmed tornadoes in four locations. An EF0 — the lowest rating — with 85 mph winds touched down in Wise County; an EF1 with 100 mph winds was confirmed in northwest Fort Worth; an EF1 with 95 mph winds struck near Possum Kingdom Lake in Palo Pinto County; and a fourth twister with unknown wind speeds hit rural southern Bell County.
Four people were rescued and a total of nine people were treated at hospitals for minor injuries in Jacksboro, where a radar-confirmed tornado struck about 3:50 p.m. Monday, officials said at a news conference Tuesday morning. No fatalities had been reported in Jacksboro as of Tuesday afternoon.
Abbott, speaking from a Jacksboro hospital, said it was a “miracle” no one was killed in the Jack County storm, which destroyed the elementary school where people took cover. Jacksboro High School also sustained heavy damage; video and photos showed the gym’s roof almost fully sheared off.
Standing outside the elementary school Tuesday morning, Jacksboro police Chief Scott Haynes recalled wading through inches of water to reach the hallways where students, parents and faculty were sheltering.
Scattered among debris on the campus were flipped-over cars. Haynes said many were left behind by parents who ended up hunkered in the building.
“By the mere hand of God, our community was protected,” Jack County Judge Brian Keith Umphress said at a news conference early Tuesday. About 80 homes were destroyed, Abbott said.
About 30 miles northeast, Bowie also endured widespread damage.
Bowie city manager Bert Cunningham said as many as four people were trapped in collapsed buildings, KXAS-TV (NBC5) reported. Emergency manager Kelly McNabb told the TV station four people suffered minor injuries.
Sarah Barnes, with the weather service’s Fort Worth office, said meteorologists were surveying the damage across the region. She said “plenty of damage” was reported from Dallas-Fort Worth up to the Red River.
Dallas Fire-Rescue responded to more than two dozen traffic accidents between 6 and 9 p.m. Monday, spokesman Jason Evans said. Crews were also called to three reports of downed utility wires or transformers and to Montfort Drive and the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway in North Dallas after multiple vehicles drove into high water, Evans said.
Heavy storm damage was reported to the weather service in northwest Fort Worth, Carrollton, Bowie, Era, Paradise, Santo and northwestern Grayson County.
In Tarrant County, Birdville ISD officials said on social media that part of the roof was mangled at Hardeman Elementary School in Watauga and water leaked into six classrooms.
South of Dallas-Fort Worth, there were reports of damage in Buckholts, Groesbeck, Mart, Rosebud and southern Bell County, according to the weather service.
Heavy rain also pummeled North Texas. Nearly an inch of rain was measured at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday, Barnes said.
Flooding was captured on video on Abrams Road in Dallas, and Colleyville police said Oak Knoll Road and Cheshire Drive were closed because of high water overnight.
As of 8 p.m. Monday, Oncor reported 535 outages affecting more than 40,000 customers across Texas. But few power outages were reported in North Texas on Tuesday.
Tornado sirens were heard in North Texas from Fort Worth to Richardson as the band of storms pushed its way eastward in the early evening.
The inclement weather pushed to the southeast Tuesday morning, and some southern counties were under severe thunderstorm warnings. Video footage showed heavy flooding near Houston. As of the Tuesday afternoon, it was on track for Louisiana and Mississippi, according to the weather service.
Maggie Prosser of The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report.