A tornado in Laguna Heights Texas killed at least one person with 10 others hospitalised due to injuries as the disaster hit a community destroying several homes and disrupting power connections, said authorities.
Tom Hushen, the emergency management coordinator for Cameron County said: “Two people among the 10 injured were listed in critical condition with many residents also suffering cuts and bruises.”
The curfew was imposed for people aged 17 and under by Eddie Treviño Jr, the Cameron County judge, which is likely to be lifted on May 16 to “mitigate the effects of this public health and safety emergency.”
The order also bars non-residents of Laguna Heights from entering the residential areas.
The tornado in Laguna Heights struck at about 4 am as the majority of people were asleep at their homes in the unincorporated community, located on the mainland across from South Padre Island, off the Gulf of Mexico.
This county has the highest poverty rates in Texas and is marked with substandard residences.
Barry Goldsmith, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Brownsville, said: “There was no advance warning, instead, the first warning of a tornado went out at the same time it was touching the ground.”
“With hurricanes, we have the benefit of getting some advance warning; we know it’s probably on its way,” Treviño said during a news conference Saturday.
“With a tornado, as 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.”
Treviño added: “The hour didn’t help.”
Roberto Flores, 42, died after being “basically crushed as a result of the damage to his mobile home,” Treviño noted.
According to the weather service, the tornado in Laguna Heights was clocked with wind speeds of 86-110 mph and was categorised as an EF1 tornado, lasting only about two to four minutes but it ripped the area.
At least 60 homes suffered damages. The county judge signed a disaster declaration, and a shelter in the nearby city of Port Isabel was providing help to 38 people.
County sheriff Eric Garza said: “Apparently it went straight through that community. Individuals don’t want to leave their houses because they’re afraid that somebody will go in there and start stealing stuff.”
My department is helping provide security for the area, said Garza.
Located 20 miles northeast of the US-Mexico border at Brownsville, Laguna Heights is not prone to having tornadoes, although this spring has been active, said weather service meteorologist Angelica Soria. The area is also preparing for the start of the hurricane season.
There have been dozens of twisters in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado causing damages however, no casualties have been reported.