SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - An EF-2 tornado struck the San Augustine area Wednesday night, according to a preliminary report from the National Weather Service Shreveport office.
NWS crews were out surveying damage in the area Thursday following storms that moved through the area Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Crews are also surveying damage in Louisiana, where two tornadoes touched down in Mooringsport and Ruston.
The rating could be increased pending further investigation, the organization said. Additional tornadoes may also be added to the list.
Though the survey is in the early stages, NWS surveyors believe the EF-2 storm that struck the San Augustine area had winds of 111 to 135 mph.
The National Weather Service reported a long-tracked supercell thunderstorm passed through Deep East Texas, west-central Louisiana and into the Arkansas/Louisiana area.
They reported the potential storm damage swath is approximately 150 miles long with possible tornado damage reported in Caddo Parrish and LaSalle Parish, Lousianna and in Upshur County and San Augustine County.
The emergency room at the Chi St. Luke’s Health-Memorial San Augustine is reported to be on divert and not accepting patients due to a power outage.
A statement was released by the hospital about the situation:
The emergency room at CHI St. Luke’s Health-Memorial San Augustine is on divert and not accepting patients at this time due to a power outage caused by a reported tornado that hit a main substation in the middle of the town of San Augustine. There were three patients at the hospital at the time. Two patients were discharged in good condition and a third was transferred to Memorial Lufkin. Hospital crews have been able to bring online a backup generator and power is being restored. Once power is restored at the hospital a safety check of all systems and equipment will be made before resuming operations. There are reports of extensive line and pole damage leaving 1200 electric customers without power in and around San Augustine. Power crews are working to restore power. Given the current emergency situation the 3D mammography center open house has been cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.
According to KTRE First Alert meteorologist Brad Hlozek, it appears a tornado touched down around 11:20 p.m. and tracked through San Augustine, causing significant damage to a hotel and various other structures.
Widespread damage is reported at the Highway 21/96 interchange. Hlozek says it may have been caused by a tornado.
Several businesses, including the Budget Inn motel, and many homes are heavily damaged. The pavilion at the San Augustine County Courthouse has been destroyed and trees are down at the public library.
A command center has been set up at the San Augustine County Sheriff’s Office.
Information about possible injuries was not immediately available.
Debris and downed trees on roadways may pose a threat for motorists in the area. Law enforcement report trees across the road and debris on Texas Highway 21 at U.S. Highway 96.
Earlier closures on Hwy. 147, FM 363, FM 2213, and FM 1277 have been cleared, according to Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson Rhonda Oaks.
San Augustine Independent School District has canceled classes for Thursday due to the storm. At about 10:14 a.m., the school district also made the decision to cancel classes for Friday due to power outages and storm damages. As of now, no decision has been made about Monday’s classes.
Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative, which provides utilities for the San Augustine area, currently has line crews in the area working to restore power to customers. Anyone encountering a downed line should consider it live and dangerous. Outages and downed lines can be reported to DETEC at (800) 392-5986.
The main power station feeling electricity has been damaged, according to San Augustine County Sheriff Robert Cartwright. He said could be a few days before power is restored, so residents may need to travel to Nacogdoches or Lufkin for essentials.
They reported that as of 8:00 a.m. they reported about 1,600 outages with 1,200 outages reported in San Augustine County.
They release the following statement at about 9:00 a.m. about the outages:
As of 8 AM, we have approximately 1,600 outages. Over 1,200 are within San Augustine County. The others are primarily in the Sabine County area around Rebel Ridge. Around 11:20 PM a tornado hit the San Augustine area causing massive damage. For the Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative system – the San Augustine substation received damage and we are recording many poles and lines down. This substation serves the City of San Augustine and members along portions of Hwy 21 West, 147 South and North, FM 1751 and FM 2213. Repairs to the substation has began and we hope to have it back up this evening. Areas with more extensive damage will take more time as crews must make repairs to the downed lines and poles.Above all, DETEC encourages everyone to keep safety a priority. Should you encounter a downed line, consider it live and dangerous.
Several gas leaks were also reported in one subdivision.