POLK COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Polk County officials have released more information about those who died in and the damage caused by the ‘large and extremely dangerous’ tornado that ripped through the area Wednesday afternoon.
Three people died in the storm. The Polk County Emergency Management Office did not identify the deceased, but said in a Facebook post that they were a female in her twenties, a male in his 50s, “and another male for which we do not have an age range at this time.”
At least 30 people were injured. The Red Cross is providing shelter for 28 county residents whose homes were damaged.
According to the Angelina County Emergency Management Office, 46 homes in Onalaska were destroyed and 291 damaged.
According to NWS, the preliminary track revealed the tornado touching down on the west side of Lake Livingston in the Waterford Marina area and traveling until it picked up southwest of Barney.
Most of the damage from the single tornado in Onalaska was rated an EF-1 with wind speeds 86-110 mph and EF-2 with wind speeds from 111-135 mph. Low end EF-3 damage with estimated wind speeds around 140 mph was identified around the Paradise Acres Subdivision in Onalaska. The remainder of the path consisted of damage rated as an EF-1 and low end EF-2.
Search and rescue teams are making additional passes through the affected areas to assess infrastructure and debris.
County officials are asking people to stay away from affected areas as conditions are not safe for re-entry.
They also are advising that “there should be no public use of drones flown over the affected areas. Only emergency operations drone flights are allowed at this time.”
Residents affected by the tornado that need to drive to the Garland Pavilion at 600 Onalaska Loop for food and water must use N FM 356, and turn onto Onalaska Loop. The pavillon will be on your left. FM 3459 is not open to local traffic.
Much of the Onalaska area is under a boil water notice. Residents can pick up drinking water at Garland Park in Onalaska, and food will also be available there after 12 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Burke will be offering grief counseling to the community at Pine Forest Baptist Church in Onalaska. Polk County OEM will provide more details when they are available. Watch the OEM Facebook page for updates.
Officials are pointing those who want to help storm victims to the Center of Hope for Polk County.
There also is a GoFundMe called Polk County TX, Project 300. The campaign is affiliated with Center for Hope and has existed since 2012. The campaign is a 501(C)(3) charitable organization and all donations are 100% tax deductible.