Texas Tornado

Texas tornado

Severe weather and likely a tornado ripped through parts of Cooke and Denton counties in North Texas late Saturday night — killing at least seven people, including children.

Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington told The Associated Press that included three family members in a home near the community of Valley View, not far from the Texas-Oklahoma border.

“Sadly, we think that that number is probably going to go up,” Sappington said. ”There’s nothing left of this house. It’s just a trail of debris left. The devastation is pretty severe.”

Sappington said at least two more children were missing.

Al Key / Denton Record Chronicle

Buildings along the service road of Interstate 35 adjacent to the Shell station at Lone Oak Road also show damage from a possible tornado, seen in the early morning hours Sunday. The area is in Cooke County just north of its border with Denton County.

Severe storms swept through the region overnight into Sunday, killing at least two in Arkansas and two in Oklahoma and causing widespread damage. It continues a busy month for tornadoes, especially in the Midwest.

Authorities said the tornado that touched down in Cooke County caused extensive damage to an AP Travel Center south of Valley View, as well as to manufactured homes in a nearby RV park. It also reportedly overturned cars on Interstate 35.

Kendall Cross, 27, lives on a small horse farm east of I-35 in Valley View. She was among a number of volunteers helping at a feeding center set up at Valley View United Methodist on Sunday.

She said during the tornado, she hid in her closet with her dogs. Cross said she’s grateful her property saw minor damage, including a few broken windows and fallen trees.

“We’re very fortunate that horses, dogs, people are all OK where we are,” she said.

But she knew the tornado had hit other parts of the city hard. She dropped off donations at the church Sunday morning.

“When I saw that in town was a little worse, I thought we better get some dog food and diapers to the church,” she said.

Pastor Beate Hall, 32, serves at Valley View United Methodist and lead recovery efforts at the church.

On Saturday, the churched served as an “awake” space where people could get a cup of coffee and some food. Now, she said it’s offering food and clothing.

“We have a few things on hand here, deodorant, diapers,” she said. “We have tons of food.”

It’s been a hectic 24 hours for Hall: Saturday night at around 10 p.m., she was inundated with texts from her family about the storm. She also started texting with congregants to make sure they were safe.

“I grabbed my birth certificate and stuff and sat in my bathtub with my bike helmet on for a while,” she said.

Hall said her home wasn’t damaged, but she knows many Valley View community members experienced much worse.

“There are others who have nothing left,” she said.

She knows some families were able to make it to Denton before the storm hit, “but they’ve lost pets. They’ve lost photos. They’ve lost their homes.”

She said the aftermath of the storm will be an ongoing response between the Red Cross, churches, the city and the mayor.

The John Fortenberry Community Center at 101 S. Lee Street in Valley View is collecting donations.

In Denton County, the Denton Fire Department reported on social media that medics and firefighters responded to Lake Ray Roberts Marina east of Sanger to extricate people from the damage. Firefighters also worked to search other houses and RVs in the area.

As the sun rose Sunday morning, Lake Ray Roberts Marina reported on Facebook that it took a direct hit and was assessing damage. “Most RVs were turned over with several people trapped inside,” the post says. “All were rescued with no known serious injuries.”

Boat houses and most boats were damaged, the marina’s management says in the post. “We lost our fuel dock and offices along with our dock cat, Ginger.”

The city of Pilot Point reported that power was out for about 1,200 residents around midnight, according to a news release.

Al Key / Denton Record Chronicle

A wrecker removes an overturned 18-wheeler from under the Lone Oak overpass on I35N after a possible tornado late Saturday/early Sunday May 26, 2024, in Denton County.

The Denton County Office of Emergency Management reported a confirmed tornado that crossed over Interstate 35 between Sanger and Valley View on Saturday night.

The storm moved east across northern Denton County, with tornadic circulation forming over Ray Roberts Lake State Park and Pilot Point areas, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

By 11:45 p.m. Saturday, the Denton County Office of Emergency Management had canceled the previous tornado warning.

According to the Denton Fire Department on social media, the outdoor warning sirens sounded automatically earlier Saturday evening in the city because the tornado warning touched the north side of the city limits. Any time a tornado warning touches city limits, all sirens sound.

On Sunday, Collin County Judge Chris Hill issued a disaster declaration after a reported tornado caused damage in and around the town of Celina. The county said several homes were destroyed and about 15,000 residents were left without power overnight, but no serious injuries or fatalities were reported.

This story is developing. 

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