State of Disaster Declared by Texas Governor as Tornado Death Toll Climbs
Texas Governor, Greg Abbott Sunday declared a State of Disaster in four counties following the devastation left from EF-4 tornadoes. During Governor Abbot’s Sunday press conference he stated, “The reason for [the disaster declaration] is we are still today dealing with storm challenges from the western part of the state to the eastern part of the state.”
EF or category 4 tornadoes are among the most violent and account for the second most powerful tornadoes that can be recorded. The weather system that traveled through greater Dallas, wreaked havoc across the South and Midwest, killing a minimum of 40 people in total, from Illinois, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. Tim Oram, meteorologist with the National Weather Service informed USA Today that this was the, “USA's first EF-4 tornado to strike in the month of December in 15 years.”
For clarity regarding disaster declarations – According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the distinction between the two types of disaster declarations concerns timing. The following is outlined by FEMA:
State of emergency: “The existence of critical emergency protective measure needs prior to impact are beyond the capability of the State and affected local governments…”
State of disaster: “The situation is beyond the capability of the State and affected local governments…”
Garland, Texas experienced some of the worst of the tornado damage. Eight people in Garland alone were killed the day after Christmas. As of 6:30pm EST, Sunday, the unconfirmed death toll stood at 11. This highly destructive weather system generated deadly tornadoes, blizzards and flooding.