Disaster declaration issued for 3 Central Texas counties

The tornado that struck Franklin. (Staff photo)
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday issued a disaster for nine counties impacted by severe weather over the weekend including Freestone, Leon and Robertson counties in Central Texas

The declaration also includes Cherokee, Houston, Madison, Nacogdoches, San Augustine and Shelby counties.

“As a result of severe weather over the weekend, Texas is taking action to ensure those impacted have the resources they need to recover as quickly as possible,” Abbott said.

“I thank all our first responders and local officials on the ground in these communities for their efforts to assist fellow Texans in the aftermath of these storms. Working together, we will ensure that these East Texas communities are rebuilt stronger than ever before.”

The declaration authorizes the use of all of the available resources of the state and political subdivisions to aid in response efforts.

Tornadoes touched down Saturday in Franklin, southeast of Jewett in Leon County and east of Mumford in southern Robertson County, the National Weather Service says.

High winds caused damage elsewhere.

The EF-3 tornado that struck Franklin formed at 10:50 a.m. Saturday just west of the Brazos River in western Milam County six miles northwest of Hearne and cut an almost 33-mile-long path before dissipating after almost an hour.

The tornado destroyed 55 homes, two churches, four businesses, a food pantry, a duplex and part of the local housing authority building on the south side of Franklin, causing an estimated $3.8 million in damage.

More than a dozen people were injured, but none of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening.

Just two were hospitalized.

No deaths were reported.

From Franklin, the tornado headed east-northeast along U.S. Highway 79, crossing the Navasota River and entering far western Leon County, leaving snapped tree trunks and branches in its wake consistent with EF-0 intensity, before dissipating at 11:45 a.m. four miles south-southwest of Marquez.

The tornado traveled 32.63 miles with a maximum width of 250 yards and had peak winds of 140 miles per hour when it struck Franklin.

The second tornado, rated EF-1 with maximum winds of 100 miles per hour, was spawned by the same supercell thunderstorm that produced the Franklin tornado.

It formed at 12:12 p.m. Saturday four miles east of Buffalo in Leon County and traveled about 11 miles with a maximum width of 150 yards, crossing Interstate 45 about five miles south of Buffalo, before dissipating at 12:19 p.m. three miles southeast of Jewett.

The third tornado, an EF-0 with maximum winds of 85 miles per hour, was confirmed from videos taken east of Mumford in southern Robertson County.

The weak tornado formed at 11:14 a.m. ten miles south-southeast of Hearne and traveled just more than 8 miles with a maximum width of 50 yards before dissipating at 11.19 a.m. nine miles south-southeast of Hearne.

The tornado’s path was across open farmland and no structures were damaged.