Storm Whips Through East Texas, Leaving Extensive Damage - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/31/02 - East Texas

Storm Whips Through East Texas, Leaving Extensive Damage

A storm with winds reaching 80 mph seared through South Smith County Monday night, toppling everything in its path. The neighborhoods hit hardest were located just off of C-R 2813.

“It was very ominous looking,” recalls homeowner Lee James. “Very dark clouds were sweeping through, and it just kept getting darker and darker.”

Daylight revealed just how dark the storm would become. Homeowners found their streets littered with fallen trees, branches and debris. Fences were toppled, houses were flooded and dozens of families were without power.

Oncor Energy representatives started working on the power lines Monday afternoon – seventeen hours later, some were still without electricity.

“We were trying to get heat going in the fireplace, and it was a pretty tough night,” remembers Todd Hayley. His mother-in-law across the street faced even more challenges.

“She lost a lot of shingles,” says Hayley. “She had water coming through the ceiling, flooding her hardwood floors.”

Hayley was convinced a tornado was the culprit, but fire officials say straight-line down burst winds caused the damage.

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