The Belton Journal
Texas is the most tornado-prone state in the country. With an annual average of 151 tornadoes from 1989 to 2019, Texas is followed by Kansas with 91 and Oklahoma averages 68 tornadoes a year. The regions are often referred to as “Tornado Alley” which is an outdated term used today. The Midwest and Southeast average 1,137 tornadoes and form in the region because of atmospheric disturbances.
When a high-end EF3 tornado with 165 mile-per-hour winds was tearing through Salado on April 12, the same storm system with quarter sized hail, rain and wind was serious enough to activate the tornado alert sirens in the City of Belton.
According to weatherspark.com, Belton received 0.42 inches of precipitation from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Paul Romer, Public Information Officer for the City of Belton, said online that the City was fortunate that the cleanup after the storm was routine and limited to the removal of brush and debris from the low-water crossing on East Central Avenue.
Bell County Judge David Blackburn provided daily press updates from the Salado disaster area.
Blackburn confirmed that 23 people were injured, including 12 who were hospitalized. One person was listed in critical condition. In the latest update, Blackburn said this event is being called the “Cedar Valley Tornado.” The tornado is still being mapped, but the latest information revealed that 63 structures, including 61 homes and two churches were heavily damaged or completely destroyed.
The twister’s footprint had an 8-mile swath, was a quarter mile long, and almost a mile wide. The working area of the perimeter was 11 miles long. More than six government agencies were working 106 addresses in Bell County. There were 638 power outages reported. Blackburn signed a local disaster declaration on April 13, for Bell County.
On Friday, about 30 girls from the Lake Belton Girls Athletic Department volunteered to help with the cleanup at the Salado tornado site.
Matt Blackburn, Lake Belton Girls Athletic Coordinator, organized the event. Blackburn said he was very proud of the girls and how hard they were working. Tristen Oliphant, Angelina DeLeon, Macee Bradford and Emma Jez said this was the first time they had seen anything like this.
“It’s devastating and heartbreaking. We are rivals on the field, but compadres in a tragedy,” the girls remarked.
Blackburn said they are always looking for opportunities to serve the community. “If we can help these people for three to four hours, I think we’re doing good stuff.”