Van, Texas, and Nashville, Arkansas, hit by suspected tornadoes - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Van, Texas, and Nashville, Arkansas, hit by suspected tornadoes

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(NBC News) - At least 10 people were unaccounted for early Monday after a tornado roared through a city east of Dallas in the middle of the night and caused extensive damage, authorities said. Three people were confirmed dead in Texas and Arkansas.

In the city of Van, Texas, officers with search dogs went door to door looking for people trapped in dozens of homes that were damaged or reduced to splinters. Cars were crushed, and the windows of an elementary school were blown out.

"The people you hung out with a few days ago don't have homes anymore," Alex Lopez told NBC DFW.

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At least 26 people in Van were injured.

Two deaths were confirmed at a mobile home park in Nashville, Arkansas, which was hammered by "lots of flooding and strong winds," Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Rick Fahr said. A third died in a flood in Corsicana, Texas, where 10 inches of rain fell in five hours.

At least 26 tornadoes were reported across the middle of the country on Sunday, and more rough weather was on the way. Up to 50 million Americans from Texas to Michigan were in the path of an expected band of thunderstorms on Monday.

The tornado threat was not expected to be as high, but large hail and damaging winds were possible, including for Detroit and Columbus, Ohio.

In Van, a city of 2,600 people an hour east of Dallas, the tornado caused damage to about a third of the city, authorities said.

"Damages range from completely destroyed homes, damaged homes, to trees and power lines down," said Chuck Allen, emergency management coordinator for Van Zandt County.

Nick Willkillurson, an 18-year-old student at Van High School, said the damage in the area was "horrible."

He told NBC News there were "trees uprooted and windows broken out of the school. The tennis courts were completely gone."

Around 100 local people had taken shelter in a local church and had been ordered not to leave, according to NBC station KETK.

Officials repeatedly requested people stay away from the damaged area to let rescue worker do their jobs.

Speaking to KETK, Van resident Chris Duwe described the moments the tornado hit.

"As soon as we opened the door up, boom, it was right there. Loud winds, high winds, rain," he added. "And as soon as we got us and the dogs in the bathroom, and closed that door, bam, the house was gone."

Emergency workers spent early Monday going door to door in search of other victims.

"Once we get daylight, we will be able to identify areas that are affected and lead responders in to verify the [houses] are clear of any individuals needing medical attention," Allen said.

The severe weather struck the Texas city around 8:45 p.m. local time (9:45 p.m. ET). At 6:10 a.m. ET, approximately 28,040 people were without power across the state.

The area also saw heavy rains and widespread flash flooding. Two groups of people had to be airlifted to safety on Sunday, authorities in Denton County said.

Elsewhere, more than 100 people were in a high school in Lake City, Iowa, when a tornado hit the building, NBC station WHO-HD reported. "Most of the roof of the building was torn off," witness Austin Jacobs added. "There was debris everywhere."


According to The Weather Channel's Kevin Roth, tornadoes remained a hazard on Monday with coastal Texas, including Houston, staying under a tornado warning until noon local time (1 p.m. ET), he said.

"Anywhere from eastern Texas up to southern Michigan there is a threat of tornadoes in the mid-to-late afternoon," Roth added.

A rare May snowstorm that brought more than a foot of snow to parts of South Dakota and Wyoming was set to end by Monday morning, according to forecasters.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Ana was also set to continue drenching North Carolina. Meteorologists warned that minor flooding was possible.

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