BEAUMONT, Texas — Thousands are without power and a number of homes were damaged Wednesday as tornadoes touched down in Southeast Texas.
The National Weather Service issued tornado watches for the entire area Wednesday morning into the afternoon. The worst of the activity moved out of the area before 1 p.m.
A tornado watch was in effect for Jasper, Newton, Jefferson, Orange, Hardin, Tyler, Chambers and Liberty counties. Severe thunderstorm watches and warnings have also been in place for the area too. Southwest Louisiana still has tornado watches in place.
This severe weather can be blamed on a squall line of thunderstorms that was forecasted for Wednesday. The 12News StormTrackers are forecasting an extended period of cool, dry weather to follow.
Wednesday 6:30 p.m. -- Vidor ISD announced it is closing all campuses Thursday, Oct. 28 to assess storm damages after severe weather across Southeast Texas. Extracurricular activities for Friday evening will still occur.
Due to the need to assess, evaluate and repair issues caused by the storm today, Vidor ISD will be closed tomorrow, October 28. School will resume Friday at regular time. All employees will also be out tomorrow except for maintenance and custodial staff. At this point, the extracurricular activities for tomorrow evening will take place. Any adjustments to this schedule will be announced via callout.
Wednesday 4:35 p.m. -- National Weather Service confirms the tornado that touched down in Orange County Wednesday morning was an F2 tornado with winds of 120 mph. Officials say a cold front can help conditions to bring it on.
Wednesday 4:10 p.m. -- Orange County residents affected by the severe weather today are encouraged to report property damage using the Texas Department of Emergency Management survey.
Using the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) damage surveys, Orange County can report damage to homes and businesses to the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
The iSTAT damage survey can be filled out in English and Spanish online by visiting damage.tdem.texas.gov and clicking on October Severe Weather Events. Reporting damage through iSTAT surveys is a voluntary activity and is not a substitute for reporting damage to your insurance agency.
Wednesday 3:50 p.m. -- The American Red Cross is setting up resources to help Orange County residents impacted by Wednesday's severe weather and tornado activity.
Anyone in need of shelter can go to the Red Cross Reception Center at the Cowboy Church. It's located at 673 FM 1078 in Orange. The Red Cross will be there until 10 p.m. Wednesday to meet with those affected and help assess their sheltering needs, according to a news release.
Wednesday 2 p.m. -- Orange County Judge John Gothia issued a Declaration of Disaster for Orange County as of 2 p.m. Tuesday due to the tornado activity that happened in Orange County. Read the full declaration here.
A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff's Office told 12News by phone just before 9:30 a tornado was "touching down right now in the Bessie Heights area of Orange County and multiple touchdowns reported by deputies." An image taken by a 12News employee in Orange County showed a side by side that had been thrown into the air and landed near his house.
Close to 10,000 families are without power in Orange County.
Orangefield ISD went into a shelter in place at its campuses for about 15 minutes and has since returned to normal operations.
Just after noon, a Beaumont ISD spokesperson told 12News Blanchette, Curtis, Dishman, Regina-Howell, Marshall and PLA Smith are all without power. "We are working with Entergy to establish a restoration time," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "We want to assure you that your students are still learning and going about their day as usual and that they are safe and secure."
A guard shack in Port Arthur was flipped over by strong winds Wednesday around 9 a.m. with one person inside. A 12News crew saw the woman being placed on a stretcher, but word on her condition has not been released.
Jefferson County has more than 13,000 homes and businesses without power according to Entergy Texas.
A declaration of disaster has been declared for Newton County after "a Tornado causing widespread damage" touched down in the county.
The Golden Triangle is expected to see a 100% coverage of showers and thunderstorms (some possibly severe with damaging winds) until the afternoon. One to two inches of rain is possible.
The lakes area will also see 100% coverage of showers and thunderstorms (some possibly severe with damaging winds) through early afternoon. One to two inches of rain is also possible for the lakes area Wednesday.
One Orange County woman told 12News her and her boyfriend were not at home when one section of her roof was crushed in during the severe weather. She said she was not at home when it happened, but her valuables were okay.
Short Term Forecast
Triangle Today: 100% coverage of showers and thunderstorms (some possibly severe with damaging winds) between 10 am and 2 pm. Becoming mostly sunny mild during the middle/later afternoon hours. Highs in the lower 80's. Winds: South shifting West 10-25 mph. 1 to 2 inches of rain possible.
Lakes Area Today: 100% coverage of showers and thunderstorms (some possibly severe with damaging winds) between 9 am and 1 pm. Becoming mostly sunny mild during the middle/later afternoon hours. Highs in the lower 80's. Winds: Southeast shifting West 5-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph. 1 to 2 inches of rain possible.
Triangle Tonight: Clear and much cooler, windy. Lows in the upper 50's. Winds: West 10-20 mph.
Lakes Area Tonight: Clear and much cooler, windy. Lows in the middle 50's. Winds: West 10-15 mph.
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This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.