Disaster declaration issued in Bell County after powerful tornado levels dozens of homes, injures 23
SALADO, Texas (KWTX) - Bell County Judge David Blackburn on Wednesday issued a disaster declaration in Bell County with the hope of expediting the use emergency management resources to help homeowners devastated by a destructive EF3 tornado Tuesday evening.
The National Weather Service rating means the tornado’s wind speed could have been anywhere from 135 to 165 miles per hour. Bell County officials said 61 homes and two churches were destroyed. In all, 106 addresses in the Bell County area suffered some sort of damage as a result of the storm.
On Wednesday, crews were still working to fix downed power lines and restore electricity to residents in Southern Bell County.
County officials said 23 people were injured, including 12 who required hospitalization.
One of the patients in the hospital is a Salado first grader listed in critical, but stable condition, Salado ISD confirmed to KWTX late Wednesday
During a news conference, Blackburn said the path of the storm was eight miles long and about a quarter of a mile wide.
WATCH: KWTX drone footage of the damage caused by the EF3 tornado
Some roads in the Salado area remain closed as crews work to clear debris and fix downed power lines.
According to the county judge, the first call regarding a tornado was received at about 5:37 p.m. Tuesday. Dozens of calls soon followed after the tornado crossed from Northern Williamson County into the Salado area in Southern Bell County.
Blackburn said search and rescue crews have done multiple walkthroughs and, as of Wednesday evening, believe everyone in the storm-ravaged area is accounted for.
“Buildings were reduced to rubble and power lines are scattered all over the place,” Blackburn said, “The damage is extensive and, at this time, to not have any fatalities is very significant.”
Blackburn said the County is ready to provide an emergency shelter to those affected, but homeowners afflicted by the storm turned down help Tuesday evening.
The focus will now turn to cleaning up the debris from damaged homes and restoring downed power lines in the area.
“There will be many, many days of cleanup after this,” the county judge warned.
Homeowners affected by the tornado can call the county for assistance beginning Thursday, April 13, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For residents in need of assistance, call (254) 534-4562. For anyone interested in making donations or offering assistance, call (254)-534-2217.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Tornado hits Salado area in Central Texas
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