Police and firefighters in Gregg County have had their hands full chasing down reports of trees and downed power lines after Rita passed through the area. Firefighters even had a blaze to deal with in the middle of all this.
Rain and wind whipped through Longview this afternoon, causing problems for motorists. "The biggest problem right now is our sporadic power outage. We've got some places in the community where it's stopped the red light, the green lights," said Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt. Some traffic signals, are out altogether. That's why officials urged citizens to stay home. "It's causing a bit of danger in travel," said Stoudt.
The police and fire departments have also received a number of reports of downed trees. One family had quite a scare this afternoon after a tree hit a power line. They say that caused an electrical spark, which started a fire in their kitchen. "I'm still shaking. It's still scary," said 19-year-old Sarah Holly, one of the residents inside that home. The family is thankful for the fire department's quick response. Judge Stoudt says crews have been preparing for this kind situation. "We've been going throughout the training exercises for the past three years and, what is great to see is, when we had the real thing starting Friday, everybody went to their positions and performed great," said Stoudt.
Judge Stoudt says the Longview Police Department has beefed up its force for this evening. They will have 56 units on the streets tonight. Kilgore, White Oak, Gladewater, Lake Port and the Gregg County Sheriff's Department, also have additional officers on duty this evening.