Residents in Matador, Texas, are coming together and slowly picking up the pieces after a deadly tornado ripped through the small central Texas town late Wednesday night. The kindness and courageous acts of storm chasers, emergency responders and community members could be felt and seen immediately following the tornado.
The twister, which still remains unrated by the National Weather Service (NWS), touched down just after 8 p.m. CDT on Wednesday in Matador, which is located roughly 70 miles northeast of Lubbock. According to the Lubbock Fire Department, at least four people were killed, and a total of 10 people were injured.
“There is no force more powerful than Texans helping Texans, and this updated disaster declaration will help the State of Texas swiftly respond to communities devastated by last night’s severe weather and tornadoes in West Texas,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press release issued on Thursday.
Several emergency response resources have been deployed to the area, including those from the state and Texas A&M University. Local fire departments in the region have also deployed personnel and rescue assets.
Less than 30 minutes after the tornado had touched down in Matador, storm chaser and former firefighter Jordan Hall arrived on the scene.
“I knew it was really bad once I saw that the trees were debarked… also a lot of very significant vehicle damage as well, and that’s when I knew it was just time to jump in there and see what I could do,” Hall told AccuWeather Senior On-Air Meteorologist Adam Del Rosso in an interview on AccuWeather Prime on Thursday.
— Jordan Hall (@JordanHallWX) June 22, 2023
Emergency vehicles and overhead lights were used to illuminate the area to assist in search in rescue operations since the tornado occurred around nightfall, according to Hall.
“Big lights that lit up the field behind the Dollar General, so we were able to form a search and rescue line a couple hundred yards wide and just swath through the field multiple times just looking for any survivors or anything that was needed at the moment,” recalled Hall.
Even though the damage could be seen with the overhead lights on Wednesday night, the first light on Thursday morning revealed a “truly horrifying” and “heartbreaking” scene for many.
“Whenever the sun came up, it was really eye-opening,” Lubbock Fire Rescue’s Public Information Officer, Derek Delgado told Del Rosso in an interview on AccuWeather Prime Thursday evening.
Delgado said the damage wasn’t limited to buildings, but vehicles were crushed and left unrecognizable, trees were missing bark and power lines were strewn about.
In a series of photos shared online of the damage, the engine of a vehicle was seemingly ripped out of the truck by the twister. All that remained of the truck was a crumpled-up metal frame.
“That damage [in Matador] was some of the most intense damage I’ve seen while working in the field,” said Hall, who compared it to damage recorded in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, just a few months prior.
“From the sounds of it, the way the community was coming together [Wednesday] night, I think there’s a lot of hope, and I think they’re going to be able to rebuild,” said Hall.
This June has been one of the deadliest on record in terms of tornadoes with eight deaths reported so far this month. According to AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell, there have been 22 deadly tornadoes so far this year, which is the most since 2011.
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