6 dead, dozens injured as apparent tornadoes tear through Texas, Arkansas: Officials

ByCory Peeler and Bill Hutchinson ABCNews logo
Monday, May 27, 2024

At least six people were killed and dozens were injured as apparent tornadoes tore through communities north of Dallas, Texas, and in northwest Arkansas on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, law enforcement said.

Children were among the dead, Cooke County, Texas, Sheriff Ray Sappington told Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA. At least two children were also missing, he said.

The storm tore through a roadside travel center near Valley View, Texas, before continuing through a community of manufactured homes, the sheriff said.

Sappington had earlier said there were at least two fatalities but said, "That number is going to go up."

More than 60 people were injured, he said.

Sappington said he feared more bad news would come at sunrise Sunday as search-and-rescue crews continued to look for survivors and officials got a better look at the damage left behind.

"I just think about daylight and what we're really going to find," Sappington said. "And I don't think it's going to be good."

Most of those fatalities occurred at the nearby FRF Estates in Valley View, a community of manufactured homes about 60 miles northwest of Dallas, according to Sappington. He said emergency response crews were combing the development for survivors Sunday morning amid "major damage."

He said another hard-hit area was the Gateway AP Travel Center in Valley View, where many people pulled off the road to seek shelter in the parking lot or in the truck stop's restrooms. Sappington said 60 to 80 people were injured at the facility.

"The storm has caused significant damage to numerous homes and businesses, including the Gateway AP Travel Center, which received major damage," the Cooke County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Sunday morning. "Emergency services are actively searching the debris for missing persons, and there have been numerous injuries of varying degrees reported."

More information will be released as it becomes available. Residents are encouraged to monitor local news and official channels for updates.

"It would really help if people just stayed away right now, gave us a few hours to get our search and rescue done," Sappington said. "I know some people were out of the area and trying to get back, but it's dangerous out there. Power lines are down. There have been reports of gas leaks. It's just dangerous right now. Just give us some time to do what we need to do. We're trying to still rescue people. The best thing people can do right now is give us a little time."

Meanwhile, a landslide closed both directions of Highway 340 in Bella Vista, Texas, according to the Bella Vista Police Department. The highway was closed after the ground underneath the roadway was washed out by heavy rains and "compromised the road surface," police said.

1 killed in Arkansas, officials say

Arkansas officials said at least one person was killed when a possible tornado hit early Sunday morning in Benton County in the northwest part of the state.

In addition to the person killed, several people were injured in Benton County, Barry Moehring, a Benton County judge, said during a news conference.

At least one possible tornado ripped through the Benton County town of Decatur and two others appeared to touch down near Beaver Lake, Moehring said.

Numerous trees and powerlines were knocked down in the storm and powerful straight-line winds also caused significant damage in Bentonville, where part of the courthouse was destroyed, Moehring said.

He said emergency crews were responding to reports of people trapped in the rubble.

Police in Rogers, Arkansas, also in Benton County, posted photos Sunday on Facebook showing widespread damage in downtown Rogers. The Rogers Police Department said emergency teams were searching for survivors and assessing the damage.

"All our major streets have trees or are closed, and we are still responding and trying to get to calls. Too many cars on the streets hamper our response," the Rogers Police Department said in a Facebook post asking people not to drive around barricades.

The threat of more severe weather on Sunday shifted east over parts of the Mississippi and Ohio River valley, where multiple rounds of strong storms are possible.

Severe storms are forecast to hit a wide swath of the Great Plains on Sunday night and move into Iowa, where residents are still cleaning up from a series of deadly hurricanes that struck near Des Moines on Tuesday night, leveling half of the town of Greenfield and killing four people, officials said.

The most intense storms are expected across parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, northern Tennessee and the southwestern edge of Ohio, where there is an enhanced risk of damaging winds, hail and tornadoes, according to forecasts.

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