(STL.News) – Governor Greg Abbott and Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy today issued a joint statement in response to the severe weather, including a tornado, that touched down in Polk County last night — killing at least 3 people and injuring at least 20. In the joint statement, Governor Abbott and Judge Murphy stated that Texas and Polk County officials are working collaboratively on recovery efforts and providing resources for residents of Onalaska, Livingston, and other communities that suffered severe damage:
“Last night’s tornado caused significant damage and led to tragic loss of life within these communities, and our hearts continue to be with Texans affected by these devastating storms. The State of Texas and Polk County officials have been working closely together to ensure recovery resources are available and utilized within the communities ravaged by this tornado. We will continue to do all we can to give Polk County residents the support they need as they recover from this severe weather.”
Overnight, Judge Murphy declared a local state of disaster in Polk County, and a shelter has been established for displaced residents of Polk County at the Dunbar Gymnasium in Livingston. Texas Division of Emergency Management’s (TDEM) State Mass Care Coordinator, as well as the American Red Cross, are providing shelter coordination. Search and rescue efforts, debris clearing, and mass care efforts were underway throughout the night.
TDEM is leading on-the-ground recovery efforts alongside Polk County and other local officials. Additionally, TDEM has deployed their Assistant Chief, District Coordinator, and a drone pilot to assist in recovery efforts. The Texas Department of State Health Services’ Emergency Medical Task Force (SETRAC) has provided an AMBUS for the community, and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has deployed assistance through DPS Aviation and Texas Highway Patrol. Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens are offering search and rescue and drone support, and the Texas Department of Transportation is providing emergency debris removal from roadways.
Texas A&M Task Force 1 Search and Rescue Teams and Texas A&M Forest Service Type III Incident Management Teams and saw crews are also providing assistance within the community. At the request of TDEM, FirstNet has deployed a Cell on Wheels (CoW) to help meet first responder communication needs.