Two of the town’s schools were damaged, and all of them remained closed on Monday, as officials worked out a plan to consolidate in the buildings that remained intact.
Late Monday afternoon, Pete Lucas, 75, sat outside his home here, staring at J.E. Rhodes Elementary School next door. A giant tree overturned in the storm collapsed on a school playground alongside a yellow twisting slide. A sheet of aluminum roofing, apparently torn from a school building, dangled from the branches of a tree in Mr. Lucas’s front yard. Bits and pieces of trees, roofs, cars, walls and signs lay scattered like confetti on the lawns of the elementary school and the nearby Van Intermediate School.
Regardless of the destruction, Mr. Lucas and other residents of this rural East Texas town said they were thankful the storm hit when it did — on Sunday night, when the school buildings and playgrounds were empty.
“If the kids had been here, it would have been devastating,” he said. “I’m so glad it was that way.”
Mr. Lucas had returned from a long day working on his farm in nearby Crockett and was preparing to go to bed Sunday night when the cable went out shortly before 9 p.m.
“We were right in the middle of it,” Mr. Lucas said. “The alarms went off, the sirens went off, but probably two to three minutes was all we had to get in the middle of the house. We went in the hall, and me and my wife and my son put a queen-sized mattress down on top of us.”
No one was injured, and Mr. Lucas’s house had foundation and roof damage but was spared any major
VAN, Tex. — The National Weather Service warned of more severe weather Monday from southern Texas to the Great Lakes, a day after tornadoes killed at least four people and left dozens injured in North Texas and Arkansas.
Storm fronts that lashed the nation’s midsection brought dozens of tornadoes, torrential rains and flooding, thunderstorms and lighting strikes, hail and even unseasonable snows. The worst of the damage appeared to be in North Texas, where as much as 10 inches of rain fell over the weekend in places, more than in March and April combined.
Dozens of tornadoes were reported across several states, including one that ripped through Van, Tex., leaving two people dead and sending 43 to hospitals with injuries; by midday Monday eight people were still missing, said Chuck Allen, the Van Zandt County fire marshal and emergency manager.
Here in Van, a town of fewer than 3,000 residents about 80 miles east of Dallas, emergency responders and residents on Monday picked through the remains of buildings that looked like they had been bulldozed.
damage. “We were very fortunate,” he said. “The good Lord had his hand on us.”
None of the windows of his house shattered. “I’ll tell you why,” Mr. Lucas said. “When I was a kid we were in one in Broken Arrow, Okla. My auntie told us to put one window up on the east side and one window up on the west side. We still got them open. They tell you now not to do that. But I still take old Auntie’s advice.”
Much of Van was in emergency mode on Monday. Helicopters circled overhead as construction vehicles, cranes, police cars and American Red Cross vehicles packed the streets. “Food For Workers Here,” read the handwritten sign outside the First Assembly of God church.
“It’s a terrible thing for a city to come out like we did, but it’s a great thing the way the people have responded,” Mayor Dean Stone said.
In Nashville, Ark., in the southwestern part of the state, a tornado on Sunday left two people dead — another married couple, whose young daughter survived, officials said. In Lake City, in western Iowa, a tornado tore the roof off a high school while more than 100 people were inside it for an assembly.
A day earlier, a tornado killed a man in Eastland County, Tex., west of Fort Worth.
Serious flooding struck in several states on Sunday; in Denton County, Tex., north of Fort Worth, people were rescued by helicopter from the roofs of cars and houses. The Denver area received several inches of snow on Sunday, snow fell in South Dakota, and flurries continued in parts of the Plains on Monday.