Crews working to restore power to Bell County community following EF-3 tornado

An EF-3 tornado injured around two dozen people and caused a lot of destruction in Bell County earlier this week. Continued assessment of the tornado damage shows even more buildings were impacted than previously thought.

Gov. Greg Abbott spoke in Salado Saturday morning, saying that at last count, 25 people were injured due to the severe weather, and 70 homes and three churches were lost, but no one has died. 

When the tornado tore through the area, it destroyed most of the power lines, leaving more than 500 homes without power, according to county officials. Since then crews have been working around the clock to put in new poles and power lines throughout the area to restore power. As of Friday evening, most of the power has been restored. 

On Friday, the area was filled with mounds of debris as people continue to pick up the pieces left behind from the tornado. This weekend the county says their main focus is picking up brush piles.

"We really need to get power restored because it's not just this 8-mile swath where the tornado came through," Bell County Judge David Blackburn said Friday. "We have TxDOT, Bartlett Electric, local government and private citizens all out there clear the roadways and get them passable and clear the power line areas, so power can be restored."

The county is now urging survivors to be wary of those looking to take advantage of the situation, reminding residents to make sure they get contracts on paper and to not pay anyone cash upfront for repairs. Officials say they've already heard reports of people trying to scam survivors. 

Bell County has set up a call center with phone lines for those needing assistance and for those wanting to donate. Homeowners or residents needing assistance following the tornado can call 254-534-4562. Those who want to donate items or funds or even volunteer to help with the clean-up efforts can call 254-534-2217.

Texans who experienced damage as a result of the severe weather are encouraged to report their damages to the Texas Division of Emergency Management's iSTAT survey. The voluntary survey, available in both English and Spanish, can be accessed here

The governor's office is reminding Texans that reporting damage to TDEM is a voluntary activity, is not a substitute for reporting damage to an insurance agency, and does not guarantee disaster relief assistance. The survey helps emergency management officials gain an understanding of damages that occurred during the severe weather.

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