Teams To Assess Damage From Texas Tornadoes | KERA News

Teams To Assess Damage From Texas Tornadoes

City leaders and weather experts will inspect Dallas-area locations where tornadoes damaged hundreds of homes.

As many as a dozen twisters touched down across the Dallas-Fort Worth area Tuesday. Thousands remained without power today and hundreds of homes were severely damaged.

Officials reported more than 20 injuries, but no deaths.

Lancaster Mayor Marcus Knight said Wednesday that the main goal is to try to assess the nature and severity of the damage. Officials in Forney report seven injuries from the storm, none of them serious. One elementary school was damaged, but no students were hurt. Workers will go door-to-door Wednesday to assess damage.

Damage was also reported in Arlington and other parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Experts from the National Weather Service on Wednesday morning began their own storm assessment. Forecasters have said Tuesday's violent weather generated as many as a dozen twisters.

The Red Cross has estimated that about 650 homes in North Texas were damaged, with some structures a total loss.

Signs of EF2 tornado damage

Officials have not finished measuring the strength of the tornadoes, but there are signs that one twister exceeded 110 mph.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jesse Moore says teams in Arlington are seeing damage that suggests an EF2 twister struck there. EF2 tornadoes are classified as having wind gusts between 111 and 135 mph.

In Arlington, a tornado barreled into a nursing home and terrified patients. An entire wing of the Green Oaks home crumbled.

Moore says the weather service has teams surveying damage throughout the area.

Thousands without power after North Texas storms

Thousands of electric customers in North Texas have started the day without power after a rash of tornadoes hit the area.

Oncor on Wednesday reported nearly 5,000 homes and businesses without electricity a day after the severe storms. Most of the outages are in the Arlington area.

Oncor crews are working to restore power in areas as far south as Round Rock and east to Nacogdoches.

Hundreds of DFW flights canceled day after storms

Hundreds of flights have been canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

An American Airlines spokeswoman says 424 flights were canceled Wednesday in and out of DFW airport, including flights by regional carrier American Eagle.

Andrea Huguely says about 800 flights were canceled Tuesday due to storms that damaged dozens of planes, which face inspections and repairs. She says 94 American and American Eagle planes remained out of service Wednesday.

DFW airport spokesman David Magana says about 1,400 stranded travelers spent Tuesday night in terminals.

A spokesman for Southwest Airlines says 46 flights were canceled Tuesday at the carrier's home base of Dallas Love Field. Southwest had no cancellations Wednesday.

Perry activates state response

Gov. Rick Perry has activated the State Operations Center to quickly mobilize any assistance that local authorities may need after the severe thunderstorms and tornadoes swept through north Texas.

Perry activated the center Tuesday in San Antonio, where emergency response officials were meeting for their annual conference. More than a dozen people were injured by at least three separate tornadoes.

He said officials were in communication to mobilize whatever assistance may be needed in tornado-stricken areas around Dallas and Fort Worth.

Perry said neighboring communities are providing assistance under the Texas Mutual Aid System and said state officials would assist as needed.

He urged all Texans to heed storm warnings and stay out of the way of emergency workers.

AP

Texas secretary of state pushes voter education

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade has launched a voter education drive for the 2012 election.

She said the campaign will answer questions about voting laws and dismiss misperceptions about casting ballots. Her office has a new Facebook page and will use social networks to spread the word, as well as television and radio.

The Texas primary elections moved from March 6 to May 29 because of a challenge to the state's new political maps. Now many candidates worry people don't know when to vote, or who the candidates are in their districts. Experts are concerned about low voter turnout.

Andrade said on Wednesday that voters have until April 30 to register for the primary and that early voting begins May 14. Voters can get more information at votetexas.gov.

Rule restricts hunting of rare exotic antelopes

A new U.S. regulation restricting the hunting of three exotic African antelope species has upset Texas ranchers whose efforts have led to a rise in the animals' numbers.

The rule takes effect Wednesday.

For years, hundreds of Texas ranchers have made big money on exotic antelopes. Hunters pay up to $10,000 to bag just one dama gazelle.

The new rule says hunting the dama gazelle, the scimitar-horned oryx and the addax isn't allowed unless ranchers obtain a permit.

But the Texas-based Exotic Wildlife Association says just 10 percent of ranchers have sought the permits.

Animal-rights groups are happy with the change. The animals were listed on the Endangered Species Act but were exempt from the no-hunting rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That rule will now be enforced.

Lawmakers file ethics complaint against activists

Two prominent Republican legislators filed state ethics complaints against one of the most influential conservative activist groups in Texas on Tuesday, alleging the organizer and its president did not obey lobbying laws.

Texas House committee chairs Rep. Jim Keffer and Rep. Vicki Truitt filed the complaint against Empower Texans, also known as Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. The Republicans allege that the group's president Michael Quinn Sullivan failed to register as a lobbyist and the organization failed to file a required campaign finance activity disclosure.

Sullivan has been a vocal opponent of increasing state government spending and he speaks regularly at conservative political rallies. Empower Texans maintains a scorecard based on lawmaker's voting records on conservative issues and endorses candidates.

Sullivan denied any wrongdoing.

Fort Hood shooting suspect due at pretrial hearing

The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage is due in military court for a pretrial hearing.

Maj. Nidal Hasan will attend Wednesday'shearing on the Texas Army post in which the judge may rule on a defense request to provide them with a government-paid forensic pathologist.

The judge also may rule on a defense motion seeking to force prosecutors to provide notes from meetings with President Barack Obama, the defense secretary and other officials after the November 2009 shootings.

Prosecutors have said no Army officers involved in the case were influenced by higher-ranking officials.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder and could face the death penalty if convicted. His trial is scheduled for June.