ROWLETT – At least 8 people are dead and hundreds of homes damaged after an EF4/3 tornado roared through Garland and Rowlett last night just before 7 pm.
The tornado ravaged about a two-square-mile area to the southwest and the northeast of Interstate 30 and the George Bush Turnpike.
All those killed were in tornado-related traffic accidents near I-30 and the Bush Turnpike, according to Rowlett police spokesman Lt. Pedro Barineau. Officers were trying to determine whether there were any other casualties at the accident site, where about a dozen vehicles had crashed. Some bodies were recovered in vehicles. Others were thrown from the scene.
The EF4 tornado touched down first in the Kelso Lane area of Garland, just south of I-30 and west of Lake Ray Hubbard. Hundreds of apartments and homes were damaged – many completely leveled.
The tornado then crossed the I-30/Bush Tollway area into southwestern Rowlett and continued on as an EF3 in a northeastern direction to Lake Lavon and into Collin County. Hundreds more homes were destroyed and damaged in Rowlett.
An EF4 includes winds from 166-200 mph. It’s only the second EF4 ever recorded in the Dallas County. The EF4 on May 9, 1927, killed 15 people and injured 40 others. An EF3 tornado includes winds between 136-165 mph.
Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel declared his city a State of Disaster this morning after sunlight began to reveal the devastation.
Electricity was out in about 6,000 homes, but Oncor was already working on restoring the power throughout the night and expects it to be on today. Atmos Energy was also on the scene repairing gas leaks.
An emergency shelter has been set up at Schrade Middle School in Rowlett, located at 6201 Danridge Rd. 75089.
24-Hour Fitness in Rockwall is offering free showers and locker room use for displaced victims.
Red Cross spokesperson Anita Foster said dozens of trained volunteers are already on the ground in both cities assisting residents. If you would also like to register to volunteer, just visit the Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.org/local/northtexas
Rowlett Police Chief William Broadnax told CBS-11 TV News that volunteers are not needed today or tomorrow but will be needed this coming week.
Police are not allowing anyone into the areas of destruction expect those who live there or are authorized to be the
More details to come.
By J.J. Smith