NEW: About 200 homes were destroyed and 650 damaged, the Red Cross says
NEW: The National Weather Service says one tornado rated an EF-3
NEW: About 250 departures and 250 arrivals were canceled, a D/FW Airport spokesman says
Between six and 13 tornadoes might have touched down in north Texas
About 200 homes were destroyed and 650 were damaged by violent tornadoes in northern Texas, an American Red Cross spokeswoman said Wednesday, a day after the storms tore through one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.
Spokeswoman Anita Foster said Wednesday that their teams are still in the field assessing the damage and that she expects final tallies late Wednesday or early Thursday.
Between six and 13 tornadoes may have touched down in Dallas, Arlington and the surrounding area Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Dallas-Fort Worth said. The number is an estimate because crews are still surveying damage across the area.
There are no reports of deaths so far, the mayors of Dallas and Arlington said.
Preliminary ratings of damage to one subdivision near Forney, just east of Dallas, suggests the tornado there rated up to EF-3, the National Weather Service forecast office in Fort Worth said.
Wind speed was estimated to have been as high as 150 miles per hour in the town, it said.
Tornadoes can rate up to an EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which uses damage to calculate the storm’s rating. Other tornadoes that touched down in the area Tuesday rated EF-1 and EF-2, according to the weather service.
Three people were taken to a hospital in Arlington and at least 150 homes were destroyed there, Mayor Robert Cluck said.
“We’ve dodged a bullet,” he said. “We’ve done the primary search. We feel as though we have everybody now, but they won’t give up until they have done all the other searches.”
“It was like ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ” said Gwen Dabbs, who was not able to make it to an interior room before the storm blew her windows out. She huddled in a corner of her living room covered with blankets as the tornado passed.
“My body is sore from being in the corner. But I don’t have not a cut, not a scratch, and I’m so thankful. Thank you, Lord,” she said.
Massive hail pounded the area before the tornadoes touched down.
“Once the hail stopped, our electricity went out. I thought, ‘That’s it, we need to get into the bathtub,’” said Nicole Lawrence said. “It’s only by God’s grace that I’m here.”
Lawrence said her home was reduced to rubble. She took shelter in a bathroom with her two sons, who covered their mother with their bodies to avoid debris. By the time the tornado had swept through, all that was left of her house was her son’s tuxedo hanging in what used to be a closet.
He was planning to wear it to the prom.
Hail damaged more than 100 aircraft at Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport, spokesman David Magana said. About 250 departures and 250 arrivals were canceled Wednesday after the storm, he said.
In all, about 1,400 passengers spent the night in the terminals. The airport passed out cots, blankets and pillows to those sleeping there, Magana said. Thousands of others went to local hotels, he said.
Airport officials Wednesday were asking travelers to check with their airlines before arriving at the airport.
Eric Gould was aboard his flight and ready for takeoff Tuesday when the pilot announced a delay. Suddenly, the skies opened up, unleashing rain and hail as big as golf balls.
“The noise of ice cubes hitting the aluminum exterior of a 757 was as deafening as it was frightening,” he said. “Imagine the sound of dropping a bucket of ice cubes onto a metal-roof shed for about 10 minutes straight.”
In Lancaster, south of Dallas, roofs were stripped to bare plywood. About 300 buildings were damaged, according to the city’s mayor. A citywide curfew was in place.
CNN affiliate WFAA broadcast video of tractor-trailers lifted and flipped like matchsticks. Ominous clouds darkened the skies.
In one picture at a freight truck depot on the south side of Dallas, a twister flung semitrailers high into the air and hundreds of feet from their parking spots. Lot owner Wisconsin-based Schneider National Trucking Co. said there were no injuries at the facility, but about 100 pieces of equipment were damaged.
“The storm’s impact to freight, our customers and our operations overall appear to be minimal – a remarkable outcome in light of the force of the storm,” the company said in a statement.
A tractor weighs 20,000 pounds. An empty trailer weighs 14,000 pounds, while a full one weighs about 46,000, a Schneider spokesman said.
CNN’s Henry Hanks, Ed Lavandera, Matt Smith, Dana Ford, Chad Myers, Joe Sutton and Brian Todd contributed to this report.