Search and Recovery Underway After Tornadoes East of DFW Area

Van Zandt County is 65 miles east of Dallas

Officials in Van Zandt County say they are in search and recovery mode after at least four tornadoes swept through the area east of Dallas Saturday night.

The mayor of Canton said Sunday that at least four people died in the tornadoes. She cautioned that the death toll, originally put at five, could rise again as search teams go through the extensive wreckage.

NBC 5's Katy Blakey reports as daylight sheds light on the damage left behind along Interstate 20 after a tornado tore through Canton, Texas.

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Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett called the damage she'd seen as, "heartbreaking and upsetting."

Everett the damage area after multiple tornadoes stretched 35 miles from southern border of Van Zandt County to the northern border and covered an area 15 miles wide.

The National Weather Service reported four tornadoes left a trail of damage in the Van Zandt, Henderson and Rains Counties, east of the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Saturday evening.

Everett said there had been 49 tornado-related injuries, 16 of those came from the triage center at Canton High School.

Door-to-door searches using dogs were underway Sunday. As search teams deal with gas leaks and downed power line and trees, volunteers were urged to stay away for now.

"We are not letting volunteers of any kind into the area, we do not want your help at this time, we will later," Everett said.

The city is without power and Everett said water conservation efforts were underway as generators were on their way to the area. Five power transmission poles were down in the area, according to Everett.

Oncor had 30 crews staging at the Walmart in Canton and more on the way. While no real time frame could be given, the mayor said they hoped to have power restored by midnight.

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Oncor stressed that no one should try to remove trees because power lines may be entangled in the branches and that removal should be left to professionals.

Everett said while First Monday Trade Days was not directly affected by the tornado, but the area had been flooded and vendors had been asked to leave. "Please do not come to First Monday Trade Days today," said Everett.

Cell service in the area was spotty Sunday, so anyone unable to reach loved ones was urged to contact the American Red Cross. Red Cross officials said anyone concerned should use their SafeAndWell.org website.

Everett said she had been in touch with state and national leaders as well as the White House and had signed a disaster declaration for Canton.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Texas Task Force 2 was also helping. He announced Sunday he planned to visit the area in person.

Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick said the National Weather Service would be out assessing damage to determine the intensity of the storms and if there were more than three tornadoes in the area.

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