A tornado ripped through communities southeast of Houston on Tuesday afternoon, destroying an assisted living facility for seniors in Deer Park and causing other widespread damage amid tornado warnings in Texas and the South.
More than 15 million people living along the Gulf Coast, including Houston, New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, were at risk from severe storms that moved into Louisiana after crossing Texas. . More than 80,000 customers in Texas and nearly 32,000 customers in Louisiana had lost power as of Tuesday night, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that tracks power outages.
Emergency responders in Deer Park and nearby Pasadena were clearing debris from roads and responding to calls for help.
The storm passed through Deer Park just before 3 p.m. and destroyed San Jacinto Manor, an assisted living facility for seniors, city officials said. No one was injured, but the town, located about 30 km south of Houston, has yet to find shelter for the 59 residents who needed to be relocated.
Emergency responders were assessing damage in Deer Park, which included downed power lines and minor damage to homes, Mayor Jerry Mouton said.
No injuries or deaths were reported, although the police department warned that “dozens of calls” were coming in and assistance could take longer than expected.
Conditions were similar to Pasadena, a city next to Deer Park and about 14 miles southeast of Houston, where a tornado touched down around 2:30 p.m. It caused severe damage to homes and businesses, but no serious injuries or fatalities were reported, Raul said. Granados, spokesperson for the Pasadena Police Department. The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army coordinated food aid and shelter for people who had lost their homes.
The Pasadena Animal Shelter suffered “significant damage” including a partial roof collapse, Sgt. Granados said. No animals or employees were injured.
“We are in the process of temporarily housing all furry friends with the help of nearby rescue groups and shelters,” he said.
A Shell plant in Deer Park was experiencing ‘flaring’ or controlled burning of gas that sends a flame out of a chimney, due to ‘loss of steam on site’ as a result of weathering, the company said on Twitter. The flaring did not threaten the community, said Curtis Smith, a spokesperson.
Forecasters from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center had warned area residents on Tuesday to anticipate potentially damaging winds and strong tornadoes.
Around 7 p.m. local time, Louisiana’s Beauregard Parish, located along the state’s western border, “was receiving reports of several areas where water on the roads” was becoming a hazard to drivers, the sheriff’s office said.
A tornado watch remains in place until 1 a.m. local time Wednesday for all of southeast Louisiana, the National Weather Service in New Orleans said. Severe weather, high winds and flash flooding will threaten parts of the state throughout the night until 4 a.m. Wednesday.
More than 1,000 schools and nearly 150 hospitals were in the Louisiana potential tornado exposure zone, the service said.
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas said to have led the Texas Division of Emergency Management to prepare state response resources, adding that authorities at all levels were ready. More than 100 flights were canceled and more than 500 were delayed Tuesday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company.
The National Weather Service released a tornado emergency for the eastern suburbs of Houston around 2:30 p.m. local time. A tornado emergency is “an extremely rare tornado warning issued when there is a serious threat to human life and catastrophic damage from an impending or ongoing tornado,” according to the weather service.
In Louisiana, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness tweeted posts on storm safety. “We face another severe weather threat this week,” the agency said, urging residents to remain vigilant. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency sent similar messages about preparing for storms.
The risk of severe weather will shift to the eastern gulf coast and the Atlantic coast Wednesday through Thursday. Cities along the east coast from Norfolk, Virginia to Jacksonville, Florida could see tornadoes later this week.
Large hail is also a risk when these storms spread.
New Orleans was hit by a deadly tornado last month as a series of storms swept through the south. And last March, two tornadoes touched down near the city, killing at least one person and leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
Derrick Bryson Taylor and Jesus Jiménez contributed report.