Residents Join Officials In Cleanup After Storms
By KENNETH DEAN
The sound of chainsaws filled the air around East Texas after strong thunderstorms raced through the region, felling trees and knocking out power to thousands of homes.
Scores of volunteers lined Gilmer Street in Big Sandy where those wielding chainsaws to clear the roadways and help remove trees from power lines included police, firefighters, Alert Academy cadets, city and Upshur County officials.
"We had straight-line winds hit us this morning in excess of 60 miles per hour," said Big Sandy Police Lt. David Sheffield.
Sheffield said that, as the storm approached town, one of the department's sergeants radioed in for the other officers to brace themselves.
"The sergeant said the wind was actually moving the patrol car and he just told us to hold on," he said.
A tree fell on a truck overnight in Big Sandy.
Sheffield said he got on the floor in the police department and the suction from the wind caused the front door to swing open and things from on the desks to scatter.
"We have 18 streets blocked by trees that also damaged a few homes and some vehicles, but we have crews out working to clear everything and hope to have power restored sometime before the days is over," he said.
In Tyler, morning commuters had to contend with periods of heavy wind, traffic signals not working and either dodging debris or having to find alternative routes due to trees blocking roadways.
A boat in Big Sandy shows the signs of strong straight-line winds as strong storms blew early in the morning on Thursday.
Tyler police were seen directing traffic at numerous intersections throughout the city where traffic signals were not working.
And several streets in the Azalea District were blocked by large trees that fell and took out electrical poles. City crews waited for power company workers to kill the power before they began the process of cutting the large trees up and hauling them off.
Charles Hill of TXU said the original amount of customers affected by the storm was about 4,500, but by late afternoon most had power restored.
"We got off luckier than the Dallas area were winds were even higher than what we had," he said.