One killed as tornado hits south Texas near the Gulf coast, damaging dozens of homes

One person was killed and a curfew was imposed after a powerful tornado tore through a community near the southern tip of Texas before dawn Saturday, damaging dozens of residences and knocking down power lines, authorities said.

At least 10 others were hospitalized, including two people who were listed in critical condition, said Tom Hushen, the emergency management coordinator for Cameron County. Many residents also suffered cuts and bruises.

A nighttime curfew for those 17 and under was issued by Eddie Treviño Jr., the Cameron County judge, and is expected to end May 16 to ‘mitigate the effects of this public health and safety emergency.’ The order also forbids non-residents of Laguna Heights from entering its residential areas.

The tornado hit at about 4 a.m. as most people were in their homes asleep in the unincorporated community of Laguna Heights, located on the mainland across from South Padre Island, off the Gulf of Mexico. The county has among the highest poverty rates in Texas and is dotted with substandard housing.

There was no advance warning. Instead, the first warning of a tornado ‘went out at the same time it was touching ground,’ said Barry Goldsmith, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Brownsville.

‘With hurricanes we have the benefit of getting some advance warning; we know it’s probably on its way,’ Treviño said during a Saturday press conference. ‘With a tornado, like Barry mentioned, it’s not a common scenario unless we have a hurricane/tropical cyclone in the area. So, we didn’t have the benefit of a warning.’

‘The hour didn’t help,’ Treviño added.

Roberto Flores, 42, died after being ‘basically crushed as a result of the damage to his mobile home,’ Treviño said.

The storm was clocked with wind speeds of 86-110 mph (138-177 kph) and was categorized as an EF1 tornado, according to the weather service. It lasted only about two to four minutes but it ravaged the area.

Source: Somali National News Agency

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