Athens Review, Athens, Texas

May 22, 2013

Wet and wild

County hammered by heavy rain, high winds

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

ATHENS — A line of severe thunderstorms roared throughout Henderson County on Tuesday afternoon, dropping significant rainfall and taking down trees and power lines.

The storm produced heavy rains in Athens, where the National Weather Service reports 2.16 inches fell. Residents in the county were seeing three or more inches in their rain gauges.

“There were quite a few trees down, especially in the southern part of the county,” Meteorologist Nick Hampshire of the National Weather Service said.

Hampshire said the biggest winds in the county were probably in the 60- to 70-mile-per-hour range, big enough to snap tree limbs but not enough to cause structural damage to buildings.

Oncor Electric was restoring power to 56 Henderson County locations on Wednesday morning affecting 504 customers. About 20 of the locations were in Athens.

Other interruptions in power were reported in Malakoff, Log Cabin, Tool, Trinidad and between Athens and the Anderson County line.

Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative also had work crews making repairs in the county Tuesday night until after 3 a.m. on Wednesday. TVEC reported that power had been restored to its customers by dawn.

Hampshire said NWS issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Henderson County at 5:13 p.m. At 5.22 p.m., an automated severe weather alert was sent to telephones around the county. Within a few minutes, the force of the storm was being felt in various sections of the county.

Henderson County Sheriff’s Office reports showed 16 calls reporting trees down. In addition, there were 12 cases of downed power lines.

In Athens, the police and fire departments responded to storm-related calls after the storm blew through shortly after 5 p.m. At 5:37 p.m., a resident in the 1100 block of east U.S. Highway 175, reported that lightening hit a tree and started a fire.

The Athens Police Department responded at 6:04 p.m. to a report that several vehicles were stalled by high water underneath the railroad overpass in the 300 block of West Corsicana Street. APD sent officers to the scene to help clear the vehicles from the road.

A few minutes later, APD blocked off a part of Ben Belt Drive until the high water from the heavy rain could drain.

The Fire Department responded to several calls between 6:33 p.m. and 7:06 p.m. They included a transformer fire on Cayuga Drive, a power pole falling on limbs in the 1500 block of East  Tyler Street, a smoldering tree on Bradley Drive, a power line down on the edge of Old Tyler Road, and a tree falling on a house in the 700 block of South Prairieville Street.