Brian Roth

Evacuations Around Damaged Water Tower in Rowlett

The EF3 tornado injured at least 23 in Rowlett; no fatalities

A total of 446 homes in Rowlett were hit by Saturday's EF3 tornado, leaving more than 100 destroyed.

Officials said 101 homes were destroyed, 83 structures were severely damaged and 142 had minor damage. The number of homes damaged was expected to increase as city leaders continued inspections.

Officials said the tornado remained on the ground for four miles as it swept through the eastern side of Rowlett.

"It stayed on the ground, pretty much, until it moved all the way through Rowlett," Rowlett City Manager Brian Funderburk said.

A 24-hour curfew remained in effect for areas most damaged. Only residents and emergency crews were allowed to enter the damage zone.

Engineers were concerned about possible structural damage to the Martha Water tower. The tower was drained to allow for further inspection, and homes within a football field radius of the tower were evacuated.

"We may have some structural damage," said Funderburk. "It is one of our older water towers. Right now we're draining it as a precaution."

City officials said Tuesday that engineers completed an inspection and the water tower will be stabilized with guywires. The 200-foot evacuation radius will remain in effect until a repair or replacement decision is made later in the week.

Despite the damage, no fatalities were reported. At least 23 people were injured.

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