Tornadoes kill at least five in Arkansas and Texas, several still missing

May 11, 2015 | By | Reply More

May 11, – Emergency responders searched through splintered wreckage Monday in parts of Texas and Arkansas after a line of tornadoes battered several small communities, killing at least five people, including a young couple who died trying to shield their daughter from the storm.

hromedia Tornadoes kill at least five in Arkansas and Texas, several still missing intl. news2By midday, eight people were still missing in a rural East Texas town, raising the possibility that the number of dead could climb. Scores of others were hurt, some critically.

The couple, in their late 20s or early 30s, died when a twister hit their mobile home late Sunday in the Arkansas town of Nashville, Howard County Coroner John Gray said.

Michael and Melissa Mooneyhan were trying to protect their daughter when the parents’ trailer flipped over and “exploded,” Gray said.

“It’s a miracle that little girl survived,” the coroner said. The girl, who is about 18 months old, was taken to the hospital and later released to relatives.

Once the word spreads, he added, the deaths will be a blow to the community.

“That’s what it’s like in a small town,” Gray said. “You either know them or you know somebody who knows them.”

In neighboring Texas, a likely tornado pummeled the small town of Van, damaging about 30 percent of the community, according to Chuck Allen, fire marshal and emergency management coordinator for Van Zandt County.

Authorities confirmed at least two deaths as they surveyed the damage. Eight people were still unaccounted for in Van, population 2,600, about 70 miles southeast of Dallas.

Rescuers went door to door checking on neighbors. Damage appeared to be widespread, with trees uprooted and numerous homes and buildings flattened or ripped apart.

At least 42 people were injured, according to two East Texas hospitals. Four patients were in critical condition.

James Crawford and his wife, Thelma, rode out the storm in their mobile home in the area with some Van’s worst damage.

They were in bed and did not have time to run, she said. All she could do was roll over and give her husband a bear hug while they held on.

Thelma Crawford said she believes their home lifted off the ground a bit, then came back down.

“We’re like family in that neighborhood,” she said. “When one of them gets hurt, I hurt.”

Preliminary reports indicate 20 to 25 tornadoes formed Sunday in South Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas, according to meteorologist Greg Carbin of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

The storm system was expected to slowly move east, he said, with a low possibility of tornadoes in lower Michigan on Monday. Thunderstorms were forecast from Texas to the Great Lakes region.

“This is certainly not an atypical system for spring where you’ve got the remnants of winter but the onset of summer,” Carbin said.

The National Weather Service believes at least one tornado hit Van on Sunday night, senior meteorologist Eric Martello said. Weather service crews were surveying the area Monday.

The same storm system dumped 11 inches of rain in some places and caused widespread flooding. Firefighters in Corsicana, 60 miles southwest of Van, recovered the body of a driver who had ventured into the floodwaters after his vehicle stalled in a swollen creek.

The heavy rain caused a huge sinkhole to open up in Granbury, some 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth. The 40-foot-wide sinkhole swallowed the parking lot of a supermarket and damaged water and sewer lines beneath, WFAA-TV reported.

Press journalist for hRO media – Debi Campillos reports.

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Category: Environment, International

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