At least one person was killed and multiple people are missing after tornadoes hit Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas late Friday, damaging homes and knocking out power for thousands as officials launch search and rescue efforts.
The person who died was in McCurtain County in southeastern Oklahoma, which suffered significant storm damage after a possible tornado hit the city of Idabel, county emergency manager Cody McDaniel said. There are “multiple missing people,” he said.
Late Friday, authorities were trying to determine the extent of damages and injuries, McDaniel said, adding, “It’s not good.”
In Texas near the state’s border with Oklahoma, at least 50 homes were damaged or destroyed in Lamar County as of Friday evening, the sheriff’s office said.
Tornado warnings were in effect in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri Friday night, meaning tornadoes were reported to be on the ground or indicated by weather radar. The weather service recommends residents in warning areas to move to a safe like a basement or interior room.
A preliminary accounting Friday evening from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center shows nine tornadoes formed in Texas, four in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma.
Overnight tornadoes can be particularly dangerous because they can be hard to see as they move quickly through an area, and it’s also more challenging to ensure residents are warned during those hours.
Plus, more than 90,000 homes and businesses were without power across Arkansas, Louisiana, southeastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas as of early Saturday, according to Poweroutage.us.
Most of the Texas tornadoes reported occurred along the Red River border with Oklahoma, with widespread damage reported in two counties.
The National Weather Service confirmed late Friday that a tornado moving 45 mph was detected over the city of Wrightsville in Pulaski County, Arkansas, just south of Little Rock.
The number of tornadoes recorded will likely increase Saturday, and the intensity of each one will not be known until local National Weather Service offices conduct damage surveys, which may take several days.
Tornado and severe thunderstorm watches for the region lasted until early Saturday morning.
Lamar County officials declared a disaster after at least 10 people were injured when a tornado tore through the area, according to a news release from the county’s sheriff’s office. No deaths have been reported.
Two of those injured suffered critical injuries, the sheriff’s office said. Earlier Friday, a first responder was injured during the storms in the county and underwent surgery, County Constable Steven Hill told CNN.
“There has been quite a bit of damage and some injuries,” Lamar County Constable Travis Rhodes told CNN Friday night.
In nearby Hopkins County, at least four houses were damaged Friday, according to the county’s sheriff’s office.
A woman in Choctaw County, Oklahoma, was injured by a falling tree as she was trying to get to a storm shelter, Lewis Collins, a volunteer at the Choctaw Office of Emergency Management, told CNN. It’s unclear whether a tornado had occurred in that area.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he’s praying for those impacted by the tornadoes.
“Search & rescue teams and generators forwarded to the Idabel area,” he sad. “Storms hit in Bryan, Choctaw, and Le Flore counties, among others. Additional flash flooding in some areas.”