Van Zandt County officials identify all 4 tornado victims

Published on Monday, 1 May 2017 16:38 - Written by CARLINA VILLALPANDO AND EMILY GUEVARA, news@tylerpaper.com

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The remaining victims from Saturday's tornadoes have been identified. 

They are Russell "Rusty" Barlow, 51, of Corsicana, and Kenneth Hughes, 57, of Canton. Barlow was found in a building and Hughes was found in a residence, according to a news release from Van Zandt County.

Earlier today, Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick identified the other two victims.

They were James Clayton Young, 39, of Alba, and Lucretia Evette Sykes, 49, of Fort Worth. 

Young was found in his vehicle on Texas Highway 64, east of Farm-to-Market Road 243. Ms. Sykes was found north of Interstate 20, east of Farm-to-Market Road 17 near her vehicle.

Well over 100 people have been involved in the search process, and they are covering a huge area, Kirkpatrick said.

The tornado could have been on the ground for 51 miles, and in Van Zandt County alone it traveled an area of 35 miles long and 15 miles wide.

“One thing we learned through the Van tornado (in 2015) when something like this happens, it’s bigger than what you are,” Kirkpatrick said. “… Everyone has to come together and the state has done a great job assisting.”

Texas Task Force 1 and 2, which function as statewide urban search and rescue teams, are in the area working, Kirkpatrick said.

He said the search and rescue job is a massive one and unfortunately the tornadoes struck near nightfall, which made it difficult to maneuver the roads and search for people.

He said with the state’s assistance and their dogs, the search teams were able to go door to door.

“Everyone has been accounted for,” Kirkpatrick said. We have no missing persons at this time.”

Kirkpatrick said officials are continuing to work to establish a repository for collecting monetary and physical donations. 

A warehouse has been secured to store donations and more information will be relayed.

Officials said the biggest need right now is monetary, and relief efforts will be funneled through a church and is working to be set up.

Kirkpatrick said he does not have an estimate on the number of homes damaged or destroyed, but that housing will be a major need moving forward.

As far as utilities, Trinity Valley Electric Coop has major transmission line damage, more than initially expected, so customers likely will not get electricity back until Wednesday.

Oncor Electric has advised that those places that are able to receive power will have it restored by nightfall, Kirkpatrick said. AT&T cell service is reportedly back and running.

Kirkpatrick said the dusk-to-dawn curfew continues in the affected areas of the county until Wednesday.

“We continue to discourage people from traveling unnecessarily into affected areas” because of debris and the emergency workers, he said.

He encouraged the public to follow the Van Zandt County Fire Marshall/Emergency Management page on Facebook to stay updated about debris removal, volunteering and donations.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Animal Health Commission have guidelines for people who have dead livestock and other large animals on their property. Call TCEQ at 903-535-5100 or go online at www.tceq.texas.gov .

Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett asked anyone with information about or a willingness to provide free or low-cost housing to contact the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office.

Mayor Everett said power has been restored in Canton, and the city no longer is in water conservation mode. She added that the triage unit at the Canton High School band hall has been closed.

Mercy Ships is on site and is providing hot food to people in Canton. 

Mayor Everett asked donors to stop providing bottled water at this time, as officials are having trouble storing it. Mayor Everett encouraged residents to hold off until next week.

She also discouraged donations of clothing.

Officials said the noon press conference would be the last live update, and officials said they will disseminate future updates through email. 

 

KYTX CBS 19 contributed to this report.

 

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