June 2004 Storm
Navarro County, Texas


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6/3/2004 County cleans up: Frost takes brunt of violent storms

 

Friends and relatives of Scott Dowdle sift through the remains of his mobile home, which was stripped of its walls in Frost. Scott's brother Bryan lost his home, too. Daily Sun photos/SCOTT HONEA

 
Portable buildings at Ameri-Tech Portable Buildings are strewn across the lot at Interstate 45 and U.S. Highway 287. Daily Sun photo/SCOTT HONEA

 

Above, friends and relatives of Scott Dowdle sift through the remains of his mobile home, which was stripped of its walls in Frost. Scott's brother Bryan lost his home, too. At left, a cross with a sunshine backdrop gives way to a hole in the roof at a children's building at That Church off Business 45. Damage was widespread throughout Navarro County after a line of strong storms ripped through parts of North and Central Texas Tuesday night. Daily Sun photos/ SCOTT HONEA

 

By RAYMOND LINEX II/Daily Sun Staff

FROST -- Scott Dowdle kept it in perspective.

"Nobody was hurt. Everything else can be replaced," he said.

That was saying a lot considering his home and that of his brother Bryan's were destroyed in Tuesday night's storms, a mix of rain and very strong winds, presumably straight-line. The Dowdles own -- or owned -- mobile homes side-by-side in Frost, arguably the hardest-hit area in a county ravaged by storms.

As of midnight, areas of Corsicana were still without power. Across the town and rest of Navarro County, trees blocked roads, roofs were damaged and buildings were mauled or destroyed.

In Frost, officials expected the worse in terms of electricity.

"There are 22 (power) poles down here," Precinct 1 Commissioner John Paul Ross said. "... The whole town is out, and it could be two days (before it is restored)."
The storms essentially shut the small town on the western side of the county down, but neighbors rallied around one another, combing neighborhoods and offering helping hands. Williams Gin suffered damage to two silos, and several barns were destroyed.

Dean Harrington was relaxing in his chair when the storm hit about 10 p.m., and when he saw the winds through a window, he decided to go to his garage to get a better look.

"I heard a boom," he said. "I shut the door, and I soon as I did it sucked the door jam out."

Harrington had half his barn blown away, much of it covering the back side of his house. The chair he was sitting in was covered by glass broken by debris from the barn.

Tin and timber from barns throughout the area were collected and piled in two areas. The tin was moved downtown, Ross said, while burnable materials were relocated near a sewer plant, he said.

The town also was without phone lines Wednesday.

"(The community) is doing good," said Mayor Ken Reed, who has lived in Frost for most of his 68 years. "Everybody was out helping, and the county's done a real good job."

The Salvation Army served lunch to essentially the entire town, and volunteer workers, Ross said.

Similar damage was reported from Rice to Kerens to Mildred to Dawson.

At the intersection of Interstate 45 and U.S. Highway 287 in Corsicana, Ameri-Tech Portable Buildings owner Bill Johnson was dealing with the loss of seven buildings valued at more than $30,000. Several were thrown over a fence, with debris from at least one carried across 287.

"You can't tell me this was all wind," Johnson said. "... Those buildings are heavy. I've been out here before with winds 60, 70 mph and it not do anything. I've been here two and a half years and have never seen a building moved."

On South 15th Street in Corsicana, Rev. Richard Ham was watching the news on television when a possible tornado in Mansfield was reported.

"About that time, things started shaking," he said. "I told my wife we needed to get out."

The Hams made a scramble for a garage area attached to his mobile home, and took shelter in a motorcoach. The roof was ripped off the back part of the home, with parts of it landing as much as 100 yards away. Insulation could be found in a front-yard tree, nearby fence lines and neighbors' yards.

Ham didn't believe straight-line winds caused the damage either. They came later, he said.

"That roof should have been in my back yard the way the wind was blowing," he said.

Instead, it went completely the opposite direction.

On State Highway 22, just west of Corsicana High School, Jim Prince had his new, 50-foot firecracker stand overturned. He boxed fireworks Wednesday afternoon and made plans to right the building, hopefully without further damage.

"The first gust of wind flipped it," Prince said. "I ran to the mall about 15 till 10 ... and got back at 10 and it was laying over."

Prince said the building was constructed with more than 6,000 pounds of material.

A few miles from there, 13-year-old Richard Abel and his family found cover in a storm cellar next to their home. A camper trailer ended up on a barn, and the Abels found a scare while in the cellar.

"The door flew open, and that was scary," Abel said. "... The weird thing is, we had electricity through it all, except two times for about 10 minutes."

Other areas were not as fortunate.

In Frost, Ross said Oncor and Navarro County Co-op crews were out in force early. So were the residents.

Bob Bell said many were out well after midnight surveying damage. A retired military man stationed in Guam, the storms were mild by his standards.

"I went through a couple of super typhoons," he said. "One had 196 mph winds."


6/3/2004  City parks damaged; Halbert hit hardest

Bleachers were rolled and dugouts warped as storms swept across Lake Halbert park Tuesday night. The park suffered heavy damage, city officials said. Daily Sun photo/SCOTT HONEA

By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun Staff

The Corsicana Parks suffered heavy damage in Tuesday night's storm along with the rest of Navarro County. Lake Halbert sustained the heaviest damage of all the 12 parks.

"Seventy percent of the park is damaged," said Sharla Allen, director of Corsicana Parks and Recreation Department. "It is worse than I've ever seen in all my years here.

"It is going to be so much work. I'm amazed how one bad wind storm can do so much damage. Lake Halbert was in tip-top shape. I checked it Memorial Day weekend, and everything was perfect. There were boats, jet skis, people having picnics -- a family atmosphere, more like Navarro Mills Lake."



Other parks throughout the city took a beating, as well. Jeff Whitehead, parks superintendent, assessed the damage.

"There was a lot of damage from the storm in all the parks," Whitehead said. "Fullerton-Garitty was hit bad with trees uprooted and split, as well as Community Park. The awnings at the tennis courts were damaged, as well as lots of trees covering the walking trail, lots of power lines down, and the damage at Lake Halbert."

Lake Halbert had limbs missing from nearly every tree, bleachers were flipped over, a trampoline belonging to the caretaker was in the lake, and signs were damaged. A boat, which never left its trailer, was even pushed across a parking area by the winds.
"Words just can't describe ..." Allen said. "We are in the process of trying to evaluate the damage for insurance purposes. All the awnings that are down, the signage down, the workshop damaged at Lake Halbert -- our insurance will help take care of it.

"We've got at least two extra weeks of work."


6/3/2004 CISD, Navarro College escape major damage

By JOAN SHERROUSE/Daily Sun Staff

With summer school ready to start, officials heaved a sigh of relief Wednesday when a district-wide inspection revealed minimal damage.

Jerry Ashcraft, the executive director of operations, said he inspected every campus in the wee hours of the morning after the worst was over. He was pleased to find little more than tree limbs and debris -- a scene repeated all over town.

"The worst damage was at Drane," he said. "A canopy was blown down, and the fiber optic line they use for the technology was torn away from the wall, but the rest of it was mainly tree limbs."

He said the district addresses each crisis individually to form an effective game plan, but he has people available on short notice if they are needed. Wednesday, crews were cleaning the buildings and helping teachers get their rooms set up for the start of classes today -- they will turn to outdoor cleanup shortly.

This year, Navarro is hosting elementary summer school along with classes for special-ed and ESL students. In addition, Carroll Elementary, Drane Intermediate, Collins Middle School and the high school will offer summer school programs.

Navarro College escaped the storm's wrath as well according to Susan Johnson, director of market relations and public information. She reported no damage to buildings or the many construction sites around the campus -- good news since the summer semester began there today as well.


 



6/2/2004 Evening storms leave widespread damage: Major electrical outages reported throughout the County


By STEPHEN FARRIS and LOYD COOK/Daily Sun Staff

EUREKA -- Electrical outages, downed trees and power lines and blown debris, plus a handful of unconfirmed tornado sitings, marked a strong weather cell that ran amok through Navarro County throughout the night Tuesday and into Wednesday morning.

Near the small town of Eureka, emergency personnel from across the county converged in a mad dash to reach the location of an oil well on fire from a lightning strike, according to initial reports.

"Lightning struck an oil well on SECR 3040," Richard Williams, Assistant Chief for the Mildred Volunteer Fire Department said. "We were able to contain the fire in approximately 15 minutes."

Williams said foam had to be used on the fire instead of water. Corsicana Fire Department assisted in putting out the fire.

Tops of trees were knocked down and scattered along South Highway 287 going towards Mildred, and a billboard was demolished across from Guardian Industries close to Lake Halbert.

Portable buildings at Ameritech were heavily damaged, with debris from the buildings scattered across the roadway.
The northside, southside, and eastside of Corsicana received scattered damage, with electrical power outages reported across the entire city.

Front-end loaders had to be used in some locations to clear fallen trees that blocked some city streets.

The batting cages on North Business 45 next to the golf course received major damage from the storm. Several businesses along West Seventh Avenue had damage as well.

Eric Meyers Jr., Navarro County's emergency management coordinator, said there were approximately five unconfirmed tornado sitings in the area. Talking to the Daily Sun via cell phone in route to Frost to check weather damage there, Meyers said his next stop would be Navarro Mills Lake area, where one of those reports came in.

Early on, after the initial three sitings came in, Meyers said those reports were relayed to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

"They apparently did not see enough indications (on radar) to issue a (tornado) warning," Meyers said. "Although they would not rule out the possibility that a small tornado had touched down."

He said straight-line winds were being considered the most likely cause of wind damage in early considerations and that some rotation people may have been seeing could have been at higher levels of the storm system with debris patterns below similar to tornadoes.

Electrical outages were the rule of the evening as continued reports of blown transformers and downed power lines dominated later radio traffic among emergency personnel.

At one point, the reports of these items -- along with downed trees near or on roadways and county roads -- grew so voluminous that dispatchers sent out word to keep radio traffic to emergency situations only. They told volunteer firefighters, weather spotters and law enforcement personnel to make lists of known locations to be transmitted later after the storm system passed on.

A TXU spokesperson told the Daily Sun about midnight Tuesday the company had scattered reports of outages but that he expected the list of damages to electricity provision infrastructure to expand when the daylight hours arrived and visual inspections were made.

One law enforcement officer, during the later evening hours Tuesday, called into central dispatch to inform county officials that all of the City of Barry was without power.

The City of Kerens was without power for some time, the second occurrence within the past two days related to weather. Short outages occurred Monday when a hail and rain storm paraded through that Eastern Navarro County City.

One emergency worker reported that 500 feet of electrical line was down along one county road.

Precinct 4 Commissioner John Paul Ross talked to the Daily Sun about midnight. He said all of the city of Frost was without power, the water tower had sprung a leak there, the downtown area had minor damage, and that two barns were blown away while a portion of the roof of a nearby home was torn off.

 


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