At least 11 Texans, including a little baby, lost their lives over the weekend as nearly a dozen violent tornadoes swept through the Dallas area. The National Weather Service has confirmed nine tornadoes, but said that number will likely rise as more areas are surveyed.
The tornado that traveled 13 miles through Sunnyvale, Garland, and Rowlett killed 8 people and has been classified as an EF4, with winds up to 180 mph. Another tornado that claimed 2 lives in Copeville was classified as an EF2, with winds reaching 125 mph.
One tornado touched down at about 6:45 PM on Sunday evening, wreaking havoc across 2 square miles near the intersection of I-30 and The George Bush Turnpike. At least 3 of the victims who perished were driving in their cars when the twister picked up their vehicles and flung them off the freeway.
“We had a massive tornado last night in the Dallas area. Homes and churches we destroyed and too many lives lost … Now the real work begins,” Conservative activist and Dallas resident Glenn Beck, who founded the non-profit foundation Mercury One, said in a Facebook statement. “May I ask, if you have anything left after Christmas that you earmark some of it for the disaster relief for those effected by this tornado.”
In Rowlett, Texas, a small city adjacent to Garland, a tornado completely destroyed over 80 homes (at latest count), and left over 6,000 residents without electricity. Damage, injuries, and fatalities are still being assessed.
Early estimates indicate that as many as 1,000 homes have been badly damaged or destroyed.
“You hear these things on TV, but when you’re seeing it for real and seeing the people with pajama clothes on … it’s heartbreaking,” Sheila Madden told The Dallas Morning News. “People don’t realize how little they have.”
Rowlett City has established a 24-hour curfew in storm-torn areas. The city has stressed that they need people to avoid the area and stay out of the way of emergency personnel, stating that they need the roadways clear for rescue and recovery operations.
City officials have requested that benefactors make donations via The Red Cross at www.redcross.org. That same organization has also set up a donation center at C3 Church, 3700 Chaha Rd, Rowlett, TX, 75088.
About 600 buildings in Garland were badly damaged or completely leveled. That includes businesses and apartments, but most were single-family homes.