By: Julia Deng
MIDLAND - Families throughout the Permian Basin waited frantically to hear news from loved ones in Ciudad Acuña after a deadly tornado struck the Mexico border city Monday morning.
At least 13 people were killed, including three children, Acuña Mayor Evaristo Lenin Perez said. Hundreds more were injured. The tornado tore through the city of 125,000 in six seconds and is the most powerful storm to hit Acuña in more than a century, according to officials.
"My mom has been on the phone all morning with my grandma, my aunt [and] my cousins," said Midland resident Johanna Rodriguez.
One of her cousins lives mere blocks away from where the tornado first touched down and witnessed the worst of the destruction. Photos showed overturned school buses and cars, uprooted trees and buildings reduced to piles of rubble.
"It took us hours to [get in touch] with him," said Rodriguez. "He is okay, but my heart breaks for everyone there. I grew up in Del Rio [and] Acuña, so everybody is like family down there. It brought me to tears."
She rescheduled her birthday festivities - originally scheduled for this weekend - in lieu of a trip to Acuña, she told NewsWest 9. Her party guests have been instructed to send her rescue supplies instead of presents.
"I'm going in a few days... and bringing whatever I can to help," said Rodriguez.