UPDATE: Panola, Cass and Rusk counties were included in a disaster declaration issued Monday by Gov. Greg Abbott for 16 counties hit by severe weather Sunday and early Monday.
In addition to making available state resources to local officials, the declaration waives certain regulations, allowing utility companies to bring in out-of-state resources to assist in restoring power.
"By issuing this declaration, Texas is providing local officials with the resources they need to quickly respond and recover from this storm," Abbott said in a statement. “The people of Texas can rest assured that the state will do everything it can to assist those affected by these horrific storms."
In addition to Panola, Cass and Rusk, the declaration includes Cameron, Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Erath, Hunt, Kaufman, Lamar, Rains, Rockwall, Tarrant, Van Zandt and Wood counties.
UPDATE: AEP Southwestern Electric Power Co. said more than 1,000 customers in Panola County remained without power this morning after severe weather overnight. They were among nearly 2,200 without power across East Texas on Monday morning after severe weather raked the area Sunday and early Monday.
Earlier, Carthage ISD canceled classes at the high school because it's among the locations without power.
At 9 a.m., SWEPCO reported these outages by county in Texas:
- Cass: 46
- Gregg: 224
- Harrison: 140
- Morris: 62
- Panola: 1,062
- Rusk: 622
Many more were without power across the border in Lousiana, where SWEPCO said 2,325 in Bossier Parish, 2,775 in Caddo Parish and 810 in DeSoto Parish were in the dark.
UPDATE: Carthage ISD reports that the high school has canceled classes Monday due to a power outage. All other campuses would operate on normal schedule, the district said.
PREVIOUS: A tornado apparently landed Sunday evening in portions of Panola County and snapped trees and power lines, but its force will not be known until today, National Weather Service meteorologist Aaron Stevens said.
As many as 1,794 customers of AEP-Southwestern Electric Power Co. in Carthage, Gladewater, Henderson, Marshall and Longview also lost power Sunday evening, SWEPCO spokeswoman Karen Wissing said. However, she explained the power losses were all weather-related and she did not know how many could be linked to a tornado that Stevens said touched down between 8 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday in Panola County.
Within Carthage, 563 customers lost power, Wissing said.
Reports of the tornado came in for Carthage, DeBerry, Bethany and Beckville in Panola County, said Stevens, who is based in Shreveport.
"All I can tell you right now is we have a lot of storm damage," Stevens said. He said the weather service will send a crew to Panola County this morning "and find out what happened."
The sighting came less than an hour after the weather service in Shreveport had issued a tornado watch for the region, which remains in effect until 2 a.m. Monday.
Northeast Texas counties in the watch are Bowie, Camp, Cass, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Upshur and Wood.
In Louisiana, the watch includes Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, De Soto and Webster parishes.
According to the weather service, a watch is issued when conditions are favorable for development of tornadoes in and near the watch area.
When in a watch, here's how to prepare and stay safe:
- Watch out for dark, rotating clouds
- If you see one, take shelter immediately
- Listen for a tornado siren
- If you hear it, seek shelter immediately
- Turn on your TV/radio
- You’ll get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions
- Avoid unnecessary car trips
- You don’t want to be caught outside if a tornado comes
- Bring in outdoor furniture and other items that could blow away. These may become a safety hazard.
- Take shelter immediately
- Flying debris from high winds causes most injuries
- Keep windows closed and stay away from them
- Glass from broken windows can injure you
- If you’re in a building, go to the basement or lowest floor. That’s the safest location
- If you’re in a mobile home, go to the nearest building or storm shelter. Even if tied down, your home can’t protect you.
- If you’re driving, fasten your seatbelt and go to the nearest building for cover.
- If your car gets hit by debris, stop, cover your head, and stay below the windows. You’re safer inside the car than outside.
- If you’re outside, lie down in a low, flat area and cover your head with your hands. You’re safer lying down than standing up.
- Avoid entering damaged buildings
- Broken glass and exposed nails can injure you
- Keep away from downed power lines and objects touching them. You can be electrocuted.
- Wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves, and gloves when walking through debris. Stepping on nails and glass can injure you.