At least five people were killed as severe weather raged across Texas, Oklahoma and the Southeastern United States on Wednesday
In East Texas, at least three people were dead and as many as 30 others were injured after a twister touched down in the town of Onalaska, according to Seth W. Christensen, spokesman for the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Onalaska is in Polk County, about 80 miles north-northeast of Houston, where officials declared a disaster after the storms Wednesday night.
Another deadly tornado touched down near the southern Oklahoma city of Madill about 5 p.m. and damaged at least a dozen structures, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said.
Two people were killed, said Robert Chaney, emergency management director for Marshall County, and a third person was in critical condition at a hospital.
“The tornado hit the outskirts of Madill,” he said.
The twister, which happened about 100 miles north of Dallas, was part of a severe weather outbreak expected to include heavy rain, flash flooding and thunderstorms across the Southeast, according to the National Weather Service.
It had knocked out power to more than 7,000 customers early Wednesday evening, Oklahoma emergency management officials said.
In East Texas, widespread damage was reported in Polk County after a tornado touched down in the evening. Earlier in the day, Gov. Greg Abbott placed state resources on standby as the weather approached.
“The state has already deployed response teams and medical resources to help Texans in need and to provide assistance to these communities,” Abbott said in a statement. “Our hearts are with our fellow Texans tonight and the state will continue to do everything it can to support those affected by this severe weather.”
In Polk County, about 80 miles north-northeast of Houston, officials opened a junior and senior high school as emergency shelters.
Officials at Louisiana State University Alexandria said on Twitter that the severe weather toppled a livestock building on campus.
Wednesday night the weather service issued tornado warnings for parts of Texas and Louisiana.