The town of Perryton in the Texas Panhandle was hit with disastrous force on Thursday when a tornado raged through and cost the lives of three people, injured dozens, and caused widespread destruction. The National Weather Service in Amarillo confirmed the deadly twister struck around 5 p.m. Two people were reported missing. Chief Paul Dutcher of the Perryton Fire Department declared the victims were all from the mobile home park that bore the brunt of the tornado with 30 trailers decimated and many more damaged.
The entire area was inundated with helpers. Neighboring towns and cities from Texas and Oklahoma came to lend a hand in the devastation. Discovery of scenes of widespread wreckage was quickly made. Mobile homes were ripped apart and pickup trucks with shattered windshields were tangled amongst the rubble in residential areas. Moreover, the downtown area also suffered great harm. Businesses, including an office supply store, a floral shop, and a hair salon along Perryton’s Main Street were detrimentally damaged. To make matters more hazardous, an old minivan was pushed into the outer wall of a theater. In the few remaining hours of light, citizens took it upon themselves to board up the windows of these buildings.
Ochiltree County Sheriff’s Department then enforced a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. due to dangers such as downed powerlines that would be potentially difficult to spot in the dark. Storm chaser Brian Emfinger reported that he watched a tornado move through a mobile home park, destroying it and uproots trees. Meteoologist Luigi Meccariello had not determined the size or wind speeds of the tornado.
The impact of the disaster stretched beyond the Texas Panhandle as 475,000 customers were left without power in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton tended to patients from minor to major trauma with multiple injured including head injuries, collapsed lungs, lacerations, or broken bones. In addition, an American Red Cross shelter has been set up at Ochiltree County Expo Center. Chris Samples of the local radio station KXDJ-FM declared the whole city was out of power and running off of auxiliary. Governor Greg Abbott instructed the Division of Emergency Management to give aid with traffic control and restoring any water or utilities that were needed.
The tornado that tore through Perryton caused destruction from Texas to Ohio, killing three people, injuring dozens, and leaving hundreds of thousands powerless in the wake. The town and its surrounding communities as well as the supportive citizens of Oklahoma have acted swiftly to aid in the clean up and recovery process, all while facing soaring summer temperatures and heat wave warnings.