(UPDATED May 12, 2015 at 9:43 am CT) VAN -- The tornado which struck Van Sunday evening was 700 yards wide, and was on the ground for 9.9 miles, according to Chuck Allen, Van Zandt County fire marshal. He told a 9 a.m. press conference that the tornado touched down six miles north of Edom, and lifted near the Pruitt community in Van Zandt County.
Allen said there is no firm estimate on the amount of damage done in terms of dollar value, but he believes it will be in the several millions of dollars.
Even so, "We are in much better shape than I would have dreamed we be in at this point today," according to Van Mayor Dean Stone. He praised the amount of volunteerism, donations and help from the news media.
Officials cautioned people in need of help and services to be aware of possible scams. People who wish to donate should do so only through a sanctioned organization or channel, not directly to someone who says, "I'm from Van and I was hurt in the tornado" on social media.
Another update on the situation in Van is expected at 3 p.m. today.
The American Red Cross is helping residents by providing safe shelter at the First Baptist Church, 119 East Main Street, Van. Sunday night, around 50 people stayed the night with about 19 overnight Monday, according to our news partners at KYTX CBS 19. Disaster Assessment crews were able to conduct a preliminary estimate and have determined that nearly 120 homes have been destroyed or sustained substantial damage, according to the Red Cross.
Today, Red Cross crews continue their work by providing mobile feeding in the open neighborhoods and distributing needed clean-up supplies such as shovels, rakes, tarps, work gloves and more.
Because the response is deeply emotional due to the loss of life and property, Red Cross workers are also lending support to help people cope with the disaster.
With more heavy rain and severe weather forecast for North Texas, everyone is urged to stay weather aware. The Red Cross has free resources to help families prepare for emergencies at http://www.redcross.org/prepare.
For those not affected by recent storms, donations can be made at http://www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.