(TheRedAlertNews.com) – HAPPENING NOW: In a disastrous series of tornadoes that wreaked havoc across the South, Perryton, a small city in the panhandle of Texas, and Pensacola, Florida, experienced significant damage leading to multiple fatalities and scores of injuries on Thursday.
The ferocious storm system, which triggered a wave of tornado-warned storms on Thursday evening, caused devastation in Perryton, a town near the Texas-Oklahoma border. The National Weather Service reported a tornado moving eastward north of the city at a speed of 20 mph around 5:13 p.m. CDT.
Perryton faced substantial damage as the tornado ripped through the city, resulting in at least three fatalities and more than 50 injuries. The victims in Perryton were identified as Becky Randall and Cindy Bransgrove, both women in their 60s, and Matthew Ramirez, an 11-year-old boy. The Booker Fire Department confirmed these figures while stating that two people were missing as of late Thursday night.
Tragically, a fourth person died in Pensacola, Florida, when a tree crashed into their home during the tornado, as Escambia County Fire Rescue reported.
The path of destruction was exceptionally violent in Perryton’s downtown business district and a mobile home park, both of which took direct hits from the tornado. Paul Dutcher, the Perryton Fire Chief, affirmed that firefighters worked late into the evening rescuing people from the debris of more than 30 mobile homes damaged or destroyed by the tornado. He further estimated that up to 200 homes may have suffered damage.
The local hospital, Ochiltree General Hospital, treated an estimated 50 to 100 people for injuries ranging from minor wounds to severe injuries such as collapsed lungs, broken bones, and head injuries, according to Debbie Beck, the hospital’s CFO.
Storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski from TwisterChasers, while documenting the aftermath, described the scene as “extremely violent.” His footage revealed the extensive damage to mobile homes, with some entirely decimated and power lines and trees scattered across roads and lawns.
In the aftermath, Perryton was without electricity. Xcel Energy, the local utility provider, reported that more than 91% of customers in the county of Ochiltree were experiencing power outages. Crews were dispatched to clean up power lines and restore electricity to the town. Despite the absence of power, the Perryton Independent School District opened its gym as a shelter, with community members bringing generators to help cope with the outage.
In a statement on Facebook, Perryton Fire Department emphasized the need for community support, writing, “Keep praying for Perryton. We were hit hard. Lives have been lost and many homes and businesses lost… We have a lot of work in the days ahead to heal our community.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott responded to the calamity by directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management to deploy state emergency response resources to meet urgent life-safety needs in Perryton. “I encourage all Texans to heed the guidance of state and local officials and to take all necessary precautions to protect yourselves and your loved ones. We remain ready to quickly provide any additional resources needed over the course of this severe weather event,” Abbott said.
Unfortunately, the National Weather Service warns that more severe weather is on the horizon. Residents from Virginia to New Jersey have been alerted to potentially severe thunderstorms carrying damaging winds and hail. Similarly, residents in Wichita, Kansas; Oklahoma City; Little Rock, Arkansas; Jackson, Mississippi; Montgomery, Alabama; and Tallahassee, Florida, should also brace for potential severe weather over the weekend. Concurrently, record-high, triple-digit heat is expected to bake the South, including cities like Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and New Orleans.
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