Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration for Dallas, Tarrant and Kaufman counties Thursday, which incurred widespread damage from multiple tornados that ripped through North Texas on Tuesday.
The governor is reminding homeowners in impacted areas of important new consumer protections, signed into law last year, to prevent dishonest contractors from taking advantage of families trying to repair their homes.
"As communities begin to rebuild, my office is working to clear the way so that all needed resources continue to be available for local authorities dealing with the aftermath of this storm," Gov. Perry said.
He said, "In addition, all who have suffered damage to their home should be mindful of those that might attempt to swindle them out of money for repairs. Thanks to a new law passed last year, families have additional protections from unscrupulous contractors, and are not required to provide full or partial payment to anyone before work begins."
County Judge Clay Jenkins had asked Gov. Rick Perry to authorize government disaster assistance from Tuesday's storms in Lancaster. Jenkins, who signed the declaration Wednesday night, estimates road and bridge damage to Dallas County will exceed $1 million.
Gov. Rick Perry said the work to protect residents in one North Texas city ravaged by a tornado is a "great example of the local first responders" doing a good job.
Perry on Thursday was touring some of the devastated areas including the town of Lancaster, a suburb south of Dallas, where ten people were injured.
Perry spoke to local officials and said looking at the destroyed homes in Lancaster "brings just starkly to your mind how quickly these events can occur." He suggested Texas would ask for federal disaster relief for areas hit by the storm.
City leaders and the weather service are still surveying damage throughout parts of southeastern Dallas and the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs of Kennedale, Arlington, Lancaster and Forney.
The twister in Lancaster appears to have been an EF2 tornado with wind speeds up to 135 mph. Another twister of the same category also hit Arlington.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jesse Moore said Tuesday that the twister in Forney, about 20 miles east of Dallas, was possibly an EF3. That's two categories shy of the strongest.
Officials reported more than 20 injuries, but no deaths.
Experts from the National Weather Service on Wednesday morning began their own storm assessment. Forecasters said Tuesday's violent weather generated as many as a dozen twisters.
Footage from Tuesday's tornado showed overturned and smashed semi-trailers on the ground in the southern part of Dallas County.
The Red Cross estimated that about 650 homes in North Texas were damaged, with some structures a total loss.
More than 1,600 flights had been canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport after tornadoes whipped through North Texas. The airlines identified 108 planes for inspections shortly after the hailstorms but nearly half have gone back to flying.
American Airlines spokeswoman, Andrea Huguely, said it could take a few more days for the American and American Eagle flight schedules to return to normal at DFW. American will cancel another 296 flights in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Friday, she said.
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