Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins (D) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued disaster declarations Monday after severe thunderstorms are believed to have spawned multiple tornadoes in North Texas Sunday night.
Jenkins, who issued a local declaration of disaster, added that the situation has not worsened in Dallas County and that the purpose of the declaration is to facilitate resource deployment for recovery efforts.
"We are asking residents to please stay away from affected areas unless you must be there to protect your own safety and allow first responders to their jobs as quickly and safely as possible," Jenkins said. "If you must be in the area, stay away from downed power lines and realize that if you drive your car any distance you may run over debris that will puncture your tires and could lead to flat tires and blowouts, so please drive carefully.”
A damage estimate for Sunday night's storms has not been released, but the storms knocked out power to more than 140,000 customers in North Texas, knocked down trees, overturned cars and ripped roofs from homes.
Oncor said in many cases, downed vegetation will need to be cleared before service can be rebuilt and that customers should be prepared for the possibility of extended and multi-day outages.
Oncor said the wide-spread storms impacted not only North Texas, but Waco, Temple, Tyler and Paris and that they're working with utility partners across Texas and in neighboring states to reconnect service.
Abbott's disaster declaration includes 16 counties and makes available state resources and waives certain regulations, allowing utility companies to bring in out-of-state resources to assist in restoring power as quickly as possible.
"By issuing this declaration, Texas is providing local officials with the resources they need to quickly respond and recover from this storm," said Abbott. "My heart goes out to the Texans impacted by this severe weather, and the people of Texas can rest assured that the state will do everything it can to assist those affected by these horrific storms."
Abbott's declaration includes the following counties: Cass, Cameron, Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Erath, Hunt, Kaufman, Lamar, Panola, Rains, Rockwall, Rusk, Tarrant, Van Zandt and Wood.
Survey crews from the National Weather Service are continuing to investigate areas where tornadoes are believed to have touched down in Dallas, Richardson, Garland, Sachse and Rowlett.
NBC 5 viewers sent in dozens of videos and photos late Sunday night showing multiple funnel clouds illuminated by lightning.