|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
High winds rip through Trinity
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – While there was widespread property damage, no injuries were reported early Tuesday in the aftermath of a windstorm that ripped through the East Texas area. The storm impacted Trinity about 5:36 a.m., according to Trinity Police Chief Steven Jones. “We had very high winds and possibly a tornado hit the city,” Jones said, adding that most of the damage appeared to be concentrated in the northern half of town. “We had a lot of roof damage reported, including at the VFW post on Caroline Street, the city library and in the downtown area,” he said, adding that a number of residences also sustained damage to windows, roofs and carports “The two big, iconic Miller Beer billboards that stood for years by the (Faust) beer distributorship are gone. The telephone polls that supported them were snapped by the storm,” he said. While most of the city did not lose electricity, some areas did go dark. Some parts of the downtown area lost electrical service, including the Trinity Standard office. In order to get this week’s newspaper completed, the Trinity Standard staff moved their computer equipment to the city council chambers of the Trinity City Hall. Early on Tuesday, city officials said Entergy reported widespread damage had occurred to power lines throughout East Texas and did not know how long it would be before all of the damage could be repaired. Trinity City Manager Buddy Drake said he has received a number of calls about debris left from the storm. “We no longer have a city landfill – that was closed years ago and no longer exists,” he said. He was working Tuesday to line of sites where debris could be taken and asked city residents to contact him at 594-2507 for information. Drake noted that those with downed trees could contact pulpwood haulers who might be willing to come and remove the wood. Drake noted city work crews were called out soon after the storm passed to beginning clearing debris from city streets. He said that most of the residential areas had been cleared of debris by about 8:30 a.m. although large sections of metal roofing still decorated downtown side streets as private work crews continue to try and salvage the material. Jones added the Trinity Volunteer Fire Department was called out to battle a house fire in the Colony Park subdivision north off Highway 19 shortly after the storm passed. There was some speculation that the residential fire may have been sparked by the storm, which had power transformers sending out showers of sparks all over town. Jaimie Gentry said her father, Martin Grider, saw what he described as “four-inch balls of fire flying around” during the storm. Gentry said she was awakened from a deep sleep when the storm hit and immediately leaped from bed to check outside. “I heard what I believe was a tornado, but it wasn’t the high pitched train sound that people often describe,” she said. “What I heard was more of a deep bear growl.” Gentry lives near the Trinity County Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and said that some of what she heard could have been the roof damage occurring around her. Another witness, 13-year-old Adrianna Amason was staying at a friend’s house near the intersection of Madison and Maple streets when the storm hit. “We heard the high winds hitting the house and it really made a lot of noise. It was like a monster or something trying to get in,” she said. Amason and her friend were on the second floor of the house when the ground floor windows all blew out. “The outside layer of the window by the bed where I had been sleeping also was damaged,” she said. The businesses along Main Street also sustained damage to windows, roofs and awnings as the high winds slammed into town. Mari Lovell, owner/operator of Trinity Pawn Shop, surveyed the damage to the metal awning on the business and said she was grateful that no one was injured. “We’re high and dry inside, so that is a relief. If we had power, we could open,” she said. Although there were no immediate reports of damage to local schools, Trinity ISD officials decided cancel classes Tuesday. Jones noted that following behind Tuesday’s windstorm was another weather system that is expected to plunge local temperatures into the 20s, with wind chills expected in the teens or below. “If we get a hard freeze, there is a strong possibility that ice will form on local roads and highways. Most people around here are not used to driving in those conditions so everyone needs to take precautions,” Jones said. While it would be safer not to drive at all in those conditions, Jones advised those who must travel to leave early, go slow and take their time. At press time, the forecast called for low temperatures throughout the rest of the week with the possibility of snow on Thursday and Friday.