Cleanup efforts begin after brutal storms bashed Texas; nearly 400K remain without power (2024)

Editor's Note: This page is a summary of severe weather news for Wednesday, May 29. For the latest news, see our weather story for Thursday, May 30.

Localized flooding swept across much of Texas and the southern Plains Wednesday as residents began cleanup efforts from brutal storms that left a teenager dead and knocked out power to more than 1 million homes and businesses.

After a stormy warning, the National Weather Service said in an advisory Wednesday that additional severe weather would come in from the west, and multiple rounds of thunderstorms were expected Thursday and Friday. The weather service also issued severe thunderstorm warnings in parts of Colorado, North Dakota, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Florida Wednesday, with some areas bracing for golf-ball-sized hail and harsh wind gusts reaching 70 mph.

More than 380,000 utility customers in Texas were still without power Wednesday night, according to the USA TODAY outage tracker, and another 70,000 power customers remained in the dark across Kentucky, Arkansas, Virginia, and Missouri.

Oncor Electric said some Dallas area customers might not regain power until Friday.

"We recognize the hardships and inconveniences customers experience after severe storms like this one and remain focused on restoring power as quickly and safely as possible," the company said in a statement.

Some areas around Dallas were deluged with almost 2 inches of rain in less than four hours Tuesday, AccuWeather reported. Dallas saw 2.35 inches of rain in the entire month of May 2023.

The brutal storms were also impacting travel at major airport hubs. An American Airlines plane spun away from its jetway in high winds at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The FAA issued ground stops Wednesday at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York due to thunderstorms.

Dallas area EMS worker shocked by brutal storm damage

Cecilia Wichmann knew storms were going to roll through the Dallas area Tuesday, but she didn’t anticipate their intensity or the widespread damage.

The 44-year-old emergency medical services worker left her home around 6 a.m. and soon arrived at headquarters in Forney, a small city just east of Dallas. Standing outside the building with some of her coworkers, she felt the temperature drop and the wind pick up.

“That’s when I saw that it was going to get bad,” she said. “The rain and the wind came out of nowhere.”

Throughout the day, she saw over a dozen 18-wheelers flipped onto their sides and at least 100-150 homes destroyed by fallen trees and wind damage. Elsewhere, a 16-year-old construction worker was killed when a building under construction collapsed around him near Houston.

Hiding in a closet in Central Texas

Kenneth Radley watched local news for hours early Tuesday, waiting to see whether the powerful storms forecast for central Texas would reach his home outside Dallas in Kaufman County. They did, unleashing a deluge of rain, hail and strong winds in a matter of seconds.

Radley rushed into a small closet off his living room – the first time he’s ever sheltered from a storm. The 79-year-old emerged to see dozens of uprooted trees and the exterior of his home shredded by hail. Wind blew off the door of his detached garage and buried his truck and golf cart under a pile of debris.

“It took us all day to dig out my truck,” Radley said. The windshield was cracked and the doors and hood were dented, but it otherwise remains drivable, he said.

Same home, different tornado in Kentucky

The powerful storms have been spreading damage far beyond Texas. In Hopkins County, Kentucky, Mark Minton has spent the last few days wondering what the odds are of tornadoes hitting the same house twice.

In 2021, more thantwo dozen homes were destroyedby an EF-4 tornado thatdevastated downtown Dawson Springs, then tore off toward Minton's home in the small unincorporated community of Barnsley. On Sunday, an EF-3 tornadofollowed a nearly identical pathacross the county, this time touching down one mile north of Dawson Springs, tearing east toward Charleston then northeast toward Barnsley.

Minton's home was battered again.

"Statistically, this is like throwing at a dart board and hitting the same hole twice," Minton said. "We're trying to make a determination if it's safe to build or not. Because you hit two of these in a row, it's kind of hard to make that decision again." Read more here.

Stephanie Kuzydym, Louisville Courier Journal

In Houston, 'people are scared'

Wind gusts of more than 70 mph were recorded in Dallas and Houston, and Dallas County officials issued a disaster declaration Tuesday, warning of "a multi day power outage for a significant number" of residents.

The latest storms rolled across the state just days after Memorial Day weekend saw deadly weather crash through the region, killing almost two dozen people. At least seven deaths were reported in Texas − where the misery began two weeks ago when high winds and flooding swept through the Houston area, killing at least eight people and knocking out power to some area residents for more than a week.

“A lot of people are without power again," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in the county that includes Houston, said in a social media post. "We just got through with the derecho a couple of weeks ago, which was extremely devastating and many are still trying to recover from. And so I know people are scared.”

In Forney, 'people were caught off-guard'

In Forney, Wichmann and her colleagues headed inside and took refuge in the operations center, surrounded by 911 dispatchers taking a steady stream of calls. Rain and hail pounded on the windows as the power went out and bright flashes of lightning lit up the sky. A “bang” cut through the bellows of thunder and sent the emergency workers searching for the source: a smashed-in bay door.

After an hour or so, Wichmann and her partner headed out to survey the damage and respond to emergency calls. The building across the street had its roof ripped off. Streets were covered in mounds of mangled debris and tree limbs. And cars were submerged in floodwaters.

Between calls, she watched live footage from inside her own home to check on her two dogs: a Dalmatian named Twix and her Great Dane, Bam Bam.

“I didn’t really have any damage at my place so they were OK, thankfully,” she said. "This is absolutely one of the worst storms I've seen in years. People were definitely caught off-guard.”

Dallas disrupted by storm

In the Dallas area, power outages prompted election officials to extend polling hours for the state's runoff elections. Northeast of Dallas, the Royse City First United Methodist Church was destroyed in a blaze that firefighters tentatively blamed on a lightning strike from the storm.

Amanda Murski's Range Rover was crushed in her daughter's Dallas driveway − buried by a giant tree uprooted by straight-line winds.

"It was unbelievable the winds were crazy," Murski told "It's just a vehicle. It's OK."

More counties added to Texas disaster list

Federal emergency management officials approved Gov. Greg Abbott's request to add Collin, Cooke, Denton and Montague counties to the list of more than a dozen Texas counties already approved in the disaster declaration. The declaration allows FEMA to provide funds for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, property losses, disaster legal services and medical and funeral expenses caused by the disaster.

Here's why the storm season seems so busy

With at least 850 confirmed tornadoes so far and several major tornado outbreaks, 2024 ranks among the busiest years in recorded history. Even some of the most veteran storm chasers have been astounded by tornado activity so far this year. The U.S. has already seen four days with at least 30 tornadoes rated EF-1 or stronger, said Harold Brooks, a senior scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. The average is two a year.

Meteorologists interviewed by USA TODAY blame an active jet stream, coupled with a series of powerhouse storms rolling from the West Coast across the nation's midsection. It has "been a great recipe for numerous severe thunderstorms and tornadoes" over the past few weeks, said meteorologist Peter Mullinax of theWeather Prediction Center. Read more here.

Elizabeth Weise, Dinah Voyles Pulver, and Doyle Rice

Cleanup efforts begin after brutal storms bashed Texas; nearly 400K remain without power (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tish Haag

Last Updated:

Views: 5996

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tish Haag

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 30256 Tara Expressway, Kutchburgh, VT 92892-0078

Phone: +4215847628708

Job: Internal Consulting Engineer

Hobby: Roller skating, Roller skating, Kayaking, Flying, Graffiti, Ghost hunting, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Tish Haag, I am a excited, delightful, curious, beautiful, agreeable, enchanting, fancy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.