-- At least two people died when an EF3 tornado struck eastern Texas on Sunday, authorities said today.
The two deaths in Texas were in addition to at least two in Arkansas, as severe weather this weekend slammed the nation's midsection.
The tornado that hit Van, Texas, a small city in northern Van Zandt County, was confirmed as an EF3 today, local officials said. An EF3 tornado carries winds from 135 mph to 140 mph.
Dozens of people were hospitalized, officials in Van Zandt County said this afternoon, and three people remained unaccounted for, down from eight earlier in the day. The two killed were a husband and wife at their home, officials said. The couple was not identified by name.
Approximately 30 percent of the city suffered damages, officials said today, ranging from destroyed homes to downed trees and power lines. Officials were still working to restore power to all residents.
"My stomach kind of just went in knots when I saw this," one resident said. "I didn't think it was going to be this bad."
Roy Betencourt, who suffered a broken arm during the storm, said by the time the skies darkened Sunday night, the tornado was already on top of him and his family.
"Once the sirens came on, the lights kind of flickered out. They went out. and, as soon as they hit, it was in my backyard," he said.
Don Dunn, superintendent of Van's school district, said several schools were also damaged.
"We feel very blessed that this did not happen during a school day and that I'm not standing up here right now talking to you about any kids," Dunn said. "[I] just ask that you continue to send your thoughts and your prayers to the community of Van."
Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick said Van is a "strong community" and "will rebuild."
There were 71 reported apparent tornadoes this weekend, stretching from Iowa to Texas. Besides Van, the areas hit hardest by possible tornadoes were Lake City, Iowa, and Delmont, South Dakota.
Tornado threats continued today further north around Detroit and Cleveland.