Clean up efforts continue after EF-1 tornado impacts East Texas

Updated: May. 29, 2017 at 6:11 PM CDT
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Clean up efforts are underway across East Texas as people are trying to recover from the damage of Sunday's storms.

The American Red Cross says they will open a shelter at 8 p.m. tonight at the exhibit building on the Longview Fairgrounds, at 1123 Jaycee Drive. It is open to anyone needing shelter after yesterday's storms. The city says that the shelter will have cots and blankets available for those in need.

Rusk County PIO David Chenault released a statement on Monday at 5:30 updating the state of the city of  Tatum after the storm hit. 

Chenault reports that city officials confirm six homes destroyed or severely damaged by the storm Sunday night. Another four homes sustained moderate damage, he said, and three vehicles were severely damaged. Most of this damage was due to falling trees and tree limbs, he added, and he said that no injuries have been reported. 

As of Monday at 5:30, Tatum was still without electricity, although temporary power has been established at the fire station and the city's water facilities, Chenault reports. He says that Swepco and Rusk County Electric have continued to work all day to remove trees from downed power lines and to replace damaged poles. However, he said, there is no firm estimate on when power will be completely restored to the area.

Chenault added:

Tatum fire crews, along with Rusk County Precinct 2 Road and Bridge employees and firefighters from several area departments, are still clearing trees and debris from city and county roads. Crews also spent time Monday morning in affected neighborhoods, going door-to-door, checking on individuals known to need power for medical purposes and helping them to secure temporary power.

An Emergency Operations Center remains open at the fire station in Tatum. Anyone needing assistance or shelter can contact the Tatum Fire Department at 903-947-2217. If it is an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

In Longview, a preliminary survey from the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado impacted the area. The storms left power lines and trees down across the area, leaving many without power.

Related: NWS preliminary survey finds EF-1 tornado struck Longview area

Longview Mayor, Andy Mack, published a statement regarding the impact that the storms had in Longview. He also said that they are working with FEMA and The Red Cross to provide temporary shelters for residents.

What a storm last night. I am so thankful that no fatalities were reported.

Our city workers are working 'round the clock with FEMA and The Red Cross to provide aid and take care of our residents' needs the best we can. Temporary shelters are being set up to accommodate those people who need them (more info on that as it becomes available).

Right now it is estimated that 35,000 people in Longview are without power. Hunker down because it may be Thursday before all power is restored.

The first order of business is to restore power to hospitals, nursing homes and our water treatment plant. After those places are addressed, residences and businesses will have power restored.

If you want to help, you can do so by please staying at home, if at all possible. There are many, many, live wires down leaving intersections without functional streetlights. Emergency personnel are doing their best to direct traffic, but with so many people out and about looking around they are easily overburdened. The safest thing is for folks to stay at home and check on their neighbors.

Police, Fire and EMS Workers, along with utility lineman, worked all night long; leaving their own families to try to help yours. And they will continue to do so until power and order is restored. Please be patient and remember there are always those worse off than you. And keep these men and women in your prayers.

The City of Longview also released a statement regarding debris disposal. Citizens are reminded to follow simple yard guidelines.

Due to recent storms, the City of Longview Sanitation Division reminds residential sanitation customers that Bulky Item collection is available for collection of yard debris.  

Residents can call Sanitation at 903-237-1250 to schedule a pick-up. Residents may also take debris to the Compost Site located at 2020 Swinging Bridge Rd. The Compost Site is not open Monday, May 29, but will be open Tuesday, May 30. Please bring a current water bill to the Compost Site to show as proof as a customer.  Citizens are reminded to follow these simple yard debris guidelines.

  • Bulky item service is for limbs smaller than 24 inches in diameter and less than 10 feet. For larger trees and limbs, please contact a private tree service. 
  • Place all tree limbs as close to the curb without being in the roadway.
  • Do not place limbs under low-lying branches or utility lines.
  • Do not place limbs near poles or mailboxes.
  • Loose leaves and pine needles should be placed in paper compost bags or in separate containers.

Be sure to call Sanitation at 903-237-1250 or use the CitySend app to schedule bulky item pickup.

Related: City of Longview releases guidelines for storm debris disposal

As of 5:45 p.m. Monday, SWEPCO released estimated restoration times for the following areas:

Carthage –    2,278      Wednesday at 10 pm

Gladewater – 1,565     Wednesday at 5 pm

Kilgore –  1,446            Wednesday at 10 pm

Longview –  34,779      Friday at 5 pm

Marshall –  1,365         Wednesday at 10 pm

Monday morning, SWEPCO reported that they had restored power to more than 23,000 customers. Estimated restoration times are expected late this afternoon, but SWEPCO said that it may take multiple days to restore service.

Last night's storm packed winds of up to 60 miles per hour and downed power lines and trees across the Ark-La-Tex. At the peak, 103,000 SWEPCO customers were without power.

SWEPCO crews have restored power to more than 23,000 customers as of 9 a.m. today. We will share estimated restoration times late this afternoon. Initial estimates are that it may take multiple days to restore service.

We're working as quickly and as safely as possible to assess damage, repair transmission lines and restore power to critical community services such as hospitals, nursing homes and police and fire stations. Then, we will prioritize power restoration by the number of customers affected on each outage.

Stay away from all downed lines. They could be energized! Please report safety hazards by calling 1-888-218-3919.

Please check on family, neighbors without power and who spend a lot of time alone. Move them to a safe and cool place if they don't have power.

Outage updates here

Rusk County Office of Emergency Management said the large storm impacted the northeastern corner of Rusk County, leaving Tatum in the dark. The storm damaged homes and blocked roads with trees and debris. No fatalities were reported. Mayor Phil Corey is asking residents to conserve water until further notice.  As of 1 p.m., an estimated restoration time was not available.

First responders will be working throughout the night to remove trees from roads in the area as well as going door to door, checking to make sure everyone is safe.

Tatum remains without power tonight including the city's water operations, and Mayor Phil Corey is asking residents to conserve water until further notice.

The city has set up an Emergency Operations Center at the fire station in Tatum. Anyone needing assistance or shelter can contact the Tatum Fire Department at 903-947-2217. If it is an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

Related: City of Tatum without power, residents asked to conserve water

Related Stories: 

- Komatsu dome collapses during severe storms

- High winds rip trees onto Longview roads, homes?

-PHOTOS: Sunday storm damage across ETX

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