At least three people were killed and more than 75 others were injured on Thursday after a tornado struck the Texas city of Perryton.
Images revealed the devastation as parts of the town were left in rubble by the twister – while emergency crews searched for survivors amid the broken homes and debris.
‘It’s bad, it’s very bad. It’s non-stop crazy. It couldn’t have hit in a more vulnerable place,’ Mayor Kerry Symons said, adding that he would be unable to say how many people had died until Friday morning.
Perryton fire chief Paul Dutcher reported that at least three people were killed in the tornado, which hit at 5:10pm.
Dutcher said at least one person was killed in a mobile home park that took a ‘direct hit’ from a tornado. He added that at least 30 trailers were damaged or destroyed.
At least three people were killed and more than 75 others were injured on Thursday after a tornado struck the Texas city of Perryton
Pictured: Damaged buildings and cars are seen in Perryton after a tornado struck
Debris covers a residential area in Perryton, Texas, on Thursday after a tornado struck the town
Debris swirls through the air as the town is hit by a twister
The Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton, a town of 8,000 people, had yet to receive any dead.
But some people with life-threatening injuries were transferred to larger medical centers in Amarillo, Debbie Beck, the hospital’s chief financial officer, said.
Beck said that up to 100 people with injuries ranging from scratches to a collapsed lung were treated at the hospital in Perryton.
First responders from surrounding towns and cities and from neighboring Oklahoma descended on the town, which is home to more than 8,000 people and about 115 miles (185 kilometers) northeast of Amarillo, just south of the Oklahoma line.
Homes were torn apart and left in rubble, while vehicles were overturned and trees had snapped in half.
Perryton’s downtown was also struck by the tornado. About two blocks of businesses were heavily damaged, including an office supply store, a floral shop and a hair salon along the town’s Main Street. A minivan was shoved into the outer wall of a theater.
Officials say the town may have been struck by three tornadoes.
With a few hours of daylight left after the storm passed through, broken windows were being boarded up.
The Ochiltree County Sheriff´s Department said it would enforce a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday because of downed power lines and other dangers that might not be visible in the dark.
Storm chaser Brian Emfinger told Fox Weather that he watched the twister move through a mobile home park, mangling trailers and uprooting trees.
‘I had seen the tornado do some pretty serious destruction to the industrial part of town,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately, just west of there, there is just mobile home, after mobile home, after mobile home that is completely destroyed.’
There was no immediate word on the tornado’s size or wind speeds, meteorologist Luigi Meccariello said.
A vehicle and buildings are damaged in Perryton, Texas, after a tornado struck on Thursday
A vehicle sits at the entrance to the Ellis Theater after a tornado struck Perryton on Thursday
Buildings and a vehicle bear damage from a tornado in Perryton, Texas, on Thursday
Images revealed the devastation as parts of the town were left in rubble by the twister – while emergency crews searched for survivors
Nearly 50,000 customers were without electricity in Texas and Oklahoma, according to the poweroutage.us website.
Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton on Facebook said: ‘Walking/wounded please go to the clinic. All others to the hospital ER.’
‘We have seen somewhere between 50 and 100 patients,’ said Kelly Judice, the hospital´s interim CEO. Those include about 10 people in critical condition who were transferred to other hospitals.
Patients had minor to major trauma, ranging from ‘head injuries to collapsed lungs, lacerations, broken bones,’ she said.
The hospital also said an American Red Cross shelter had been set up at the Ochiltree County Expo Center.
Chris Samples of local radio station KXDJ-FM said the station was running on auxiliary power. ‘The whole city is out of power,’ he said.
Buildings are damaged after a tornado struck Perryton, Texas, on Thursday
Trees break and collapse following the twister
A view of a damaged site in Perryton after the town was struck by a tornado, in Texas
Vehicles get stuck due to a blockade caused by a tornado in the town of Perryton, Texas
‘Jane & I are praying for the people of Perryton tonight. I am in contact with Mayor Symons and this tragedy is being closely monitored by myself and my whole staff,’ U.S. Representative Ronny Jackson, a Republican from Texas, said on Twitter.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a written statement that he was deploying the state’s emergency response teams to the area, including resources from an emergency medical task force, along with search and rescue teams.
Abbott said: ‘The State of Texas is swiftly deploying critical emergency response resources to provide all necessary support and assistance to protect Texans and help those impacted by tornadoes in Perryton.
‘I encourage all Texans to heed the guidance of state and local officials and to take all necessary precautions to protect yourselves and your loved ones.
‘We remain ready to quickly provide any additional resources needed over the course of this severe weather event.
‘I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for our fellow Texans who have been impacted by this horrific storm. Stay safe, Texas.’
Rep. Four Price said: ‘Please keep the Perryton community in your prayers. Many structures are damaged.’
By evening, the weather front was moving southeast across Oklahoma. The weather service said a second round of storms would continue to move through that state and parts of Texas through the evening while the risk of severe weather, including tornados, remained for the metropolitan Oklahoma City area.
Elsewhere in Texas and other Southern states stretching to Florida, heat advisories were in effect Thursday and were forecast into the Juneteenth holiday weekend with temperatures reaching toward 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). It was expected to feel as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius).
The storm system also brought hail and possible tornadoes to northwestern Ohio.
A barn was smashed and trees toppled in Sandusky County, Ohio, and power lines were downed in northern Toledo, leaving thousands without power. The weather service reported “a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado” over Bellevue and storms showing “signs of rotation” in other areas.
It was the second day in a row that powerful storms struck the U.S. On Wednesday, strong winds toppled trees, damaged buildings and blew cars off a highway from the eastern part of Texas to Georgia.