All missing residents accounted for after Texas tornadoes
GRANBURY, Texas (Reuters) - All seven people listed as missing after a monster Texas tornado that tore homes from their foundations and uprooted trees on Wednesday have now been accounted for, leaving the death toll at six, authorities said on Friday.
Workers were clearing debris to allow residents of the most damaged areas in the town of Granbury to return to see the destruction, possibly on Saturday. Volunteers have arrived in droves to help with the massive cleanup effort, said Lonny Haschel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
"Crews are trying to shore things up to make sure it's safe for people to return," Haschel said. "There is still debris everywhere, and some still falling off the houses, so we want to make sure it is safe."
The search for survivors is complete and everyone is accounted for, Haschel said. Fifty people were taken to area hospitals for injuries and another 90 were treated for minor injuries at the scene, he said.
About 100 homes were damaged and 66 are unlivable, according to Anita Foster, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross in North Texas.
"It is really catastrophic to see how much damage there is," Foster said. "You can really tell the powerful force of this storm."
The tornado, which brought winds of up to 200 miles per hour (320 km per hour), was rated an EF4 by the National Weather Service (NWS), the second-most powerful level for such a storm.
The tornado blew homes from their foundations, tossed cars through the air and uprooted trees as it raged through at least four North Texas counties. The worst-hit area included dozens of Habitat for Humanity homes, which are built by volunteers for poor families.
The weather service said on Friday that 16 tornadoes struck North Texas during the outbreak. The strongest one hit Granbury, a town of 8,000 people about 35 miles southwest of Dallas-Fort Worth.
On Friday, in the Rancho Brazos neighborhood of Granbury, cars sat upside down, windows of homes were shattered and plastic bags and sheet metal were stuck in trees.
In that entire neighborhood of 110 homes, there is no water or electricity, so even residents of homes that were not damaged won't be able to live there for awhile, officials said.
Texas Governor Rick Perry surveyed the devastation on Friday and met with survivors.
"A tornado can turn your life upside down, literally," Perry told reporters.
Rancho Brazos resident Tiffany Mayes, who was at work when the emergency sirens went off, said that all she had were the clothes and shoes she was wearing that night.
When her sister took her to Walmart to buy a change of clothes and some toiletries, a man behind her in the checkout lane heard her talking about her loss. After she checked out, he handed her a $100 gift card and hugged her, she said.
"It's a good place to live," she said. "These are good folks."
(Additional reporting by Marice Richter in Dallas; Writing by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Greg McCune, Sofina Mirza-Reid, Kevin Gray, Andrew Hay, Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)