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Two dead, several injured in Texas, Oklahoma storms that destroyed dozens of homes

Damage in Lamar County, Texas, was consistent with a strong tornado, U.S. weather officials said Saturday. A tornado in Athens, Texas, was confirmed.

At least two people were killed, several were injured, and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed as storms and tornadoes struck Texas and Oklahoma on Friday, officials said.

One death was confirmed in Morris County, Texas, County Judge Doug Reeder said in a statement Saturday.

Officials in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, in the southeast corner of the state, said Saturday that one person died and seven others were injured when two suspected tornadoes touched down in the area.

The exact causes of death, identities and other information about the deceased was unavailable.

Two of the 10 people injured in Lamar County, Texas, were in critical condition but were stable, the county sheriff’s office and office of emergency management said Friday night.

Approximately 50 homes were reported damaged or destroyed in the county in the northeast corner of the state, where Paris, Texas, is located, officials said.

The National Weather Service said at least two presumed tornadoes, including the one in Lamar County, have checked out.

The weather service said its ground observers believe "significant damage" in the area is consistent with a major EF-3 strength tornado capable of producing sustained winds as strong as 160 mph.

In Athens, Texas, observers on the ground said it appeared an EF-2 strength tornado struck the area. The rating means it likely had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.

The storm activity in Lamar County occurred after a tornado warning was issued around 4 p.m. Friday, and the county agencies said a tornado was confirmed on the ground.

Craig Holcomb, of Midcity in Lamar County, told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth that he could see the debris flying from a tornado. He and his wife took cover in a bathtub.

"You could hear — I make fun of people, always talking about the train noise, but it sounded just like it," he told the station. "All you could hear was a loud whistle and I saw debris flying everywhere.”

Altogether there were 17 reports of tornadoes in northeastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, and Arkansas late Friday, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. Storm surveys are typically done to confirm whether tornadoes touched down.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt said he was praying for residents impacted by tornadoes, and that search and rescue teams and generators were headed to the area of Idabel, a city of around 7,000 in the southeastern corner of the state.

Stitt canceled scheduled appearances at campaign events Saturday in order to survey the damage, his office said by email. The governor’s office said more than 100 structures, including homes, were damaged or destroyed.

Buildings were damaged or destroyed in Idabel but there had been only minor injuries reported Friday evening following a suspected tornado, Fire Chief Greg Oliver said at the time.

Red Cross Oklahoma set up a shelter in Idabel for those displaced by the storms.

The National Weather Service said it was still analyzing data and could not yet conclude a tornado struck Bryan County, Oklahoma.

Stitt planned on declaring a state of emergency for affected counties, his office said.

Northeast of Dallas, the National Weather Service at 5:24 p.m. warned of a tornado on the ground headed in the direction of Sulphur Springs.

The Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office said there was some structural damage along a road southwest of Sulphur Springs, with four houses damaged, but no injuries had been reported. Damage assessments were ongoing.

Video from NBC Dallas-Fort Worth showed heavy damage to a home in the area, and trees split and knocked onto the house and vehicles.

The severe storms occurred as tornado watches covered a swath of northern and northeastern Texas and into Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana on Friday afternoon, affecting around 14 million people, according to the weather service.

Warm, moist air surging ahead of a cold front pushing eastward created conditions ripe for severe weather, including tornadoes, in the region, the agency said.

By early Saturday, tornado watches were confined to a relatively a small section of eastern Texas, but covered most of Louisiana and Arkansas.