Downed power lines, flattened houses and roads littered with debris kept many residents from returning to their homes Sunday in this rural Panhandle town hit hard by what appeared to be a group of tornadoes.
At least 14 people were injured, one of them critically, during the storms late Saturday that knocked out power to about 20,000 customers in the region, officials said.
About 50 townspeople were unaccounted for Sunday, Moore County Judge Rowdy Rhoades said. He believes all of them are safe and likely evacuated after hearing tornado sirens in this mostly poor city of 2,500.
Town leaders held an emergency meeting Sunday evening and issued a dusk-to-dawn curfew to “cut back on any type of looting,” Rhoades said.
Officials were checking for gas leaks in the many homes damaged by the storm, Rhoades said.
“Anytime (a tornado) can take an 18-wheeler with a gravel dump, slide it sideways and jackknife it, it’s pretty strong,” he said.
Cactus was among one of the few areas in the Panhandle still without power Sunday, Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves said.
The National Weather Service in Amarillo, about 60 miles south of Cactus, sent survey teams to the area Sunday to determine how many tornadoes hit the region.
At least a dozen homes and as many businesses were destroyed in Tulia, about 50 miles south of Amarillo, but there were no serious injuries, Tulia police dispatcher Ken Patton said.