Tornadoes leave trail of destruction in East Texas

Cars and trucks are damaged as the walls blew out of the I-20 Dodge dealership after a tornado hit near Canton, Texas, Saturday, April 29, 2017. The National Weather Service says at least one tornado hit Canton, while tornadoes also were reported in surrounding areas. Powerful storms swept through Canton early Saturday evening, leaving behind a trail of overturned vehicles, mangled trees and damaged homes. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

CANTON, Texas (AP) — Severe storms including tornadoes have swept through several small towns in East Texas, leaving a trail of overturned vehicles, mangled trees and damaged homes.

Authorities believe as many as five people were killed and dozens injured, though they were still assessing the damage from the storms that swept through an area about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Dallas on Saturday evening.

“We’re talking about I think maybe five casualties,” Canton Fire Department Capt. Brian Horton said. “That number may go up … once we can get into these areas.”

Video from local television stations showed uprooted trees and overturned cars along rural, wet roadways, along with at least two flattened homes. The tornado flipped pickup trucks at a Dodge dealership in Canton and tore through the business.

Fifty-six people were treated at three hospitals and six remained hospitalized Sunday morning, two of them in critical condition, ETMC Regional Health Care Systems spokeswoman Rebecca Berkley said.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least three tornadoes swept through parts of three counties Saturday evening.

Horton asked that people who didn’t need to be in the area to stay out, “so that our teams can do what they need to do to take care of these people who are in need.” He noted that a triage center was set up at the local high school.

One resident, Ernestine Cook, told Dallas television station WFAA she rushed to a storm center just in time.

“It hit so hard, so fast. It just kept moving,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it after 22 years of living here.”