Texas tornado damages homes, storms cause flooding

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 20, 2012 8:38 AM
Texas tornado damages homes, storms cause flooding

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - A tornado southwest of San Antonio caused widespread damage as a line of thunderstorms created street flooding across the region, officials said Tuesday.

The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down late Monday about 25 miles southwest of San Antonio and moved toward the city. Most of the damage was to rural homes north of the towns of Natalia and Lytle, officials said.

"We have multiple homes damaged, several homes were taken by this tornado," Roy Bermudez, a deputy with the Medina County Sheriff's Office southwest of San Antonio, told Reuters Tuesday morning. Several people suffered injuries but a full assessment of the damage would be unavailable until after daylight.

Several dozen people took refuge in a community center set up in the town of Somerset, southwest of San Antonio, officials said.

The National Weather Service had issued flash flood warnings for portions of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. In Oklahoma, 2 to 4 inches of rain fell overnight with an additional 1 to 3 inches possible Tuesday morning, the weather service said on its website.

Weather radar images showed a slow-moving band of storms stretching from near the Texas-Mexico border through eastern Oklahoma and into southeastern Kansas. Meteorologists with the weather service said the line would continue to move eastward through the morning.

Power outages were reported across the area. A spokesman for CPS Energy, the San Antonio area's electric utility, said 23,000 homes were without power early Tuesday.

Dozens of streets were closed by high water from flash flooding or by debris.

"We are asking residents to assist us by reporting any problem areas they may see," said Renee Green, Bexar County's County Engineer.

The San Antonio Fire Department reported at least two house fires that may have been caused by lightning strikes. A truck driver had to be rescued in San Antonio after a live power line was blown onto his truck by the strong winds, trapping him inside.

Monday's tornado strikes in Texas followed two confirmed twisters in Nebraska on Sunday that destroyed homes, toppled train cars and injured two people.

The flooding rains come at a time when south and central Texas are still in the grips of a drought that began early in 2011. It developed into the state's worst one-year drought ever.

"The more water we can get now the better off we'll be down the road, later on this year," said Roland Ruiz, Assistant General Manager of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, which manages the region's water supply.

(Editing By Dan Burns and Daniel Trotta)