Tornadoes and Storms Devastate Central US, Leaving 18 Dead and Hundreds of Thousands Without Power

At least 18 people have died as tornadoes and storms ravaged central areas of the US, destroying homes and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. According to BBC, The fatalities included seven in northern Texas, eight in Arkansas, two in Oklahoma, and one in Kentucky. Numerous others were injured, and nearly 500,000 people were left without electricity across multiple states on Sunday.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a disaster in over a third of the state’s counties. Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington reported that the local death toll included two children, aged two and five, and three members of the same family. “It’s just a trail of debris left,” Sheriff Sappington said of the Valley View area, which was severely impacted by a powerful tornado. “The devastation is pretty severe.”

As reported by News AZ, Footage from the area showed a petrol station and rest stop nearly obliterated, with twisted metal scattered over damaged vehicles. Tornadoes overturned trucks, closed a highway near Dallas, and left tens of thousands without power in the region. Meanwhile, lightning, thunder, and heavy rain forced the evacuation of around 125,000 spectators, delaying the Indianapolis 500 race by four hours.

Frank Soltysiak, a resident of a mobile home park in north Texas, recounted how his home was destroyed within minutes when a storm hit. Soltysiak, who had been at a nearby restaurant, sought refuge in the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator with his dog Sampson. “That was the most secure structure you could have gone to. And I come out, and everything is destroyed,” he told CBS News. “In a matter of two minutes, it’s gone, everything is gone.”

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced the activation of state emergency response units to address the tornado’s aftermath. “Please pray for these families,” he urged, reflecting on the “unfathomable” loss experienced by those who lost loved ones. The storms in Texas coincided with record-breaking heat, with triple-digit temperature warnings issued over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. reported by CNN

In Oklahoma, two people were killed and six injured in Mayes County, according to local emergency management authorities. Arkansas officials reported multiple injuries and four fatalities, including a 26-year-old woman found outside a destroyed home in Olvey and another death in Benton County. In the city of Rogers, Arkansas, police rescued several individuals trapped by downed trees, power lines, and damaged gas supply lines.

Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Craig Greenburg confirmed that a man was killed by a falling tree during a severe storm on Sunday.

By Sunday afternoon, the storm system had started moving east, with the National Weather Service warning of severe wind and hail for those in its path. Governor Abbott expressed the profound grief over the loss of life, including the tragic deaths of a two-year-old and a five-year-old. “When they woke up yesterday, they had no way of knowing how the family would be literally crushed by this horrific storm,” he said.

Approximately 470,000 people were left without power in states spanning from Texas to Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, according to Poweroutage.us. In Kansas’s Sedgwick County, which includes Wichita, emergency services were dealing with downed trees and power lines, affecting about 8,000 customers.

These tornadoes follow another powerful one in early May that killed four people in a rural Iowa town. Government forecasters have warned that this summer could bring an “extraordinary” 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, starting next month.