Tornadoes, Thunderstorms Strike Texas
Written by Mason Anderson, Staff Writer,

April 17, 2002 — A string of tornadoes and thunderstorms tore through north Texas Tuesday (April 16), damaging dozens of homes in Ft. Worth and knocking out power lines throughout the surrounding area. The American Red Cross immediately set up shelters for affected residents and is providing emergency supplies and counseling

 Early Tuesday evening, around 5:30 p.m. local time, the first of a series of thunderstorms rolled into the Ft. Worth area, triggering three tornadoes that damaged homes and buildings.

A little more than an hour later, skies had cleared, but nearly 90 homes had sustained damage, 50 of which were severely damaged or destroyed.

"All of the homes affected were in one localized neighborhood in Ft. Worth. We set up a shelter nearby right after the sky cleared for people whose homes had been destroyed or who had lost power," said Mark Stafford, director of disaster services for the Chisholm Trail Chapter.

One tornado tore the roof off a Handley church, southeast of Ft. Worth.
Photo Courtesy of the NOAA

Despite the damage, no deaths have been reported. Pat Svacina, spokesperson for the city of Fort Worth, said a few residents were taken to local hospitals for minor injuries, according to the Associated Press. Svacina also stated that more than 20 vehicles were involved in a chain reaction accident related to the storm.

The American Red Cross began outreach operations early Wednesday (April 17) morning to deliver emergency supplies and assess the damages.

"Volunteers are delivering meals and clean-up supplies throughout Ft. Worth. Mental health counselors will be available today to help residents recover," said Stafford. "We are also going to be setting up a respite center in Ft. Worth in coordination with Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, which has donated home repair supplies to assist the recovery effort."

Mild Tornado Season

Despite Tuesday's storms, the 2002 tornado season has been one of the quietest in recent years. So far, no deaths have been attributed to tornadoes, making this the furthest the United States has gone into any year without a tornado related death since record keeping began in 1950, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

Just over a dozen tornadoes have been reported so far this year. Normally by this time 178 twisters have touched down.

However, meteorologists are warning people to be prepared as the nation enters the months of peak tornado activity — April, May and June. On average, tornadoes result in the deaths of 70 people each year.

© 2002 The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.