FORNEY (CBSDFW.COM) – Wednesday morning the mayor of the City of Forney, Darren Rozell, signed local papers to declare the city a disaster area.
At a 9 a.m. press conference city leaders said warning sirens in the area were first sounded at 3:19 p.m. on Tuesday. At 3:37 p.m. rotation was verified near downtown Forney and at 3:38 p.m. a tornado was sighted.
According to Detective Michael Clay, with the Forney Police Department, some 95 structures received some type of storm damage. Twenty-two of those homes or buildings were completely destroyed.
Tuesday evening nearly 900 power outages were reported in Forney, but by Wednesday morning that number was down to 165. Gas leaks and damaged utilities are being worked on.
One of the hardest hit sections of the city is the Diamond Creek subdivision. Wednesday morning city leaders said homeowners, and only homeowners, were being allowed into that neighborhood, located north of Highway 80.
Damage is being assessed but some homeowners are finding their homes gutted open and ripped apart.
Despite the damage Mayor Rozell put things into perspective. “It’s difficult to look at the damage to the homes and look around the town and call this a situation where we’re blessed, but if you really think about it, the fact that everybody that woke up in Forney yesterday morning is still alive today, in Forney,” he said. “That’s a real blessing. Zero fatalities.”
The mayor also pointed out that there are early warning systems in place in the city. He said residents received proper warning by outdoor sirens and through an alert system that sends out danger warnings by text, email or phone.
“It feels like there was a long timespan between when the alarm went out and when the tornado actually touched down, it was about 14 minutes, but that 14 minutes was critical,” said Forney City manager Brian Brooks. “I attribute a lot of that safety, a lot of the less injuries, to the fact that the early warning system went out.”
The integrity of damaged structures is currently being determined. Only one school, Crosby Elementary, suffered any type of major damage. The school has been closed until further notice.
Rescuers were able to go through all of the damaged homes Tuesday evening, to determine that no one was trapped inside. Wednesday morning painted red symbols were on those dwellings — indicators that the property had been searched.
Officially, only seven injuries were reported in the city, none of them life threatening. Of those, only three people had to be taken to area hospitals.
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