PICTURES: Major storms bring widespread damage across East Texas
TYLER, Texas — Widespread damage and multiple injuries have been reported after storms hammered down on East Texas overnight and into Saturday afternoon.
According to Alto Police Department Chief of Police Jeremy Jackson, approximately 125 homes were damaged ad between 40-45 homes were destroyed in the storms.
So far, there are four confirmed fatalities, including two children in Angelina County, one in Cherokee County and another person in Houston County.
The storm caused major outages across East Texas with thousands of customers left without power.
CBS19 has compiled a list of areas with confirmed damage reports residents should be aware of:
The Cherokee County Emergency Management team is setting up an agricultural drop near Alto City Hall.
Aaron Low is going to be in charge of the donations.
City is asking for the following supplies for the drop:
- Fencing supplies
- Barbed wire
- Fencing panels
- Fencing pliers
Any questions, please contact Aaron Low at 903-683-5416.
"We've been in contact with FEMA. There are some numbers we have to meet to get them down here. Whether we meet those numbers that's yet to be determined," Alto Police Chief Jeremy Jackson said. "We're starting to get a bunch of the debris and trees that's in the city street and debris in ditches cleaned up."
On Sunday, Alto Police Chief Jeremy Jackson says power has been restored to many of the customers left without power Saturday night.
Power was restored to City Hall, where Chief Jackson says the city will control all further recovery operations.
At this point, Jackson says they are working to salvage anything part of the damage possible, including homes and vehicles.
Chief Jackson says there were at least 25 injuries at Caddo Mounds, where a group was celebrating Caddo Culture Day.
According to Chief Jackson, several units responded to people who were trapped inside their houses. Jackson says all of those trapped have been rescued.
Much of the damage occurred in the northwestern part of town. EMS has set up a triage unit at The River Church located on Marcus Street. The American Red Cross has also deployed to the church to assists victims of the storms. They ave also set up temporary housing for residents who have been displaced.
If you would like to help, follow the link below to see what you can do.
Authorities from Cherokee County, Smith County, Houston County and Nacogdoches County ventured to Alto to assist with the rescue efforts.
The Smith County Department of Emergency Management deployed a strike team to Alto to assist in search and rescue efforts.
The strike team includes the following departments:
- Arp Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Brush Truck, 1 ATV – 2 personnel
- Bullard Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Brush Truck, 1 ATV – 2 personnel
- Dixie Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Command Vehicle – 2 personnel
- Flint-Gresham Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Ladder Truck, 1 Command Vehicle – 3 personnel
- Jackson-Heights Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Engine – 3 personnel
- Noonday Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Brush Truck – 2 personnel
- Red Springs Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Rescue – 2 personnel
- Troup Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Command Vehicle – 2 personnel
- Whitehouse Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Brush Truck – 2 personnel
- Winona Volunteer Fire Department – 1 Tanker – 2 personnel
- Smith County ESD#2 – 1 Command Trailer, 1 Portable Radio Tower, 1 Shop Support Trailer – 4 personnel
The Hudson Fire Department was also deployed to Alto to assist in search and rescue efforts.
At this time Highway 69 heading into Alto is closed.
Alto ISD announced via Facebook all classes are canceled until the buildings are deemed safe for students and staff. The district will be closed for the remainder of the week. Classes will resume Monday, April 22. District staff will report on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. in the Elementary Rotunda.
According to Alto ISD, there was no significant damage to any of the buildings. However, the district will continue inspections to the high school. As a result, the high school will hold classes at the other campuses indefinitely. The district is working on a schedule to best help students finish out the remainder of their school year.
Texas DPS and the Texas Division of Emergency Management are working with local authorities throughout East Texas, particularly in Cherokee County, to assist in the recovery effort.
DPS warns drivers not to travel through damaged areas and not to approach any downed lines.
Other damage reported in Cherokee County includes:
- Intersection of Highway 69 and Farm-to-Market Road 241 - Closed due to the damage.
- Highway 21 West (Alto) Closed due to trees blocking the road
- Intersection of Highway 69 (South of Rusk) and Farm-to-Market Road 421 - Closed due to debris and trees in roadway.
- Farm-to-Market Road 294 - Closed due to debris and trees in roadway
- Farm-to-Market Road 752 - Debris and trees in roadway
- Farm-to-Market Road 275 - Debris and trees in roadway
- Multiple homes destroyed by possible tornado
- Alto Elementary School Gym severely damaged
Below are photos of just some of the damage in Cherokee County:
A five-year-old girl is unhurt after a tree fell through the roof of her home.
According to the Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation, a 5-year-old girl was sleeping in the back room of the home when a tree crashed through the roof.
The girl woke up and crawled to her older sister and boyfriend in another room.
The Houston County Sheriff's Office confirmed one fatality in the country as a result of the storms.
According to TxDOT, State Highway 21 East and FM 227 have major damage along the road. While the debris has been moved from the roadway, there is still debris on the side of the road.
TxDOT says there will be large equipment working on the roads.
TxDOT urges drivers to use caution and avoid these area if possible. Drivers are also urged not exit their vehicles to take pictures.
“We have great support from law enforcement through the areas where tornadoes devastated parts of Houston County," Rhonda Oaks from TxDOT said. “We encourage motorists to take alternate routes during this clean-up and avoid FM 227 and SH 21 East, if possible."
The Houston County Sheriff's Office says there were multiple structures, including homes, barns and outbuildings, as well as vehicles damaged from the storms in the following areas:
- Weldon/Pearson Chapel
The sheriff's offices also says they are in touch with area power companies to restore power as soon as possible.
CBS19 has also been made aware of storm damage in Nacogdoches County.
Those reports include:
- Douglas Road (Nacogdoches) - Trees reported down
- Press Road (Nacogdoches) - Trees reported
- Main Street (Nacogdoches) - Damage reported
Officials are encouraging motorists to avoid these areas and use alternate routes as emergency crews respond.
Two children were killed when a tree fell on a car in the 1800 block of Dewitt Henson Rd
The Angelina County Sheriff's Office confirmed the children were ages 8 and 3.
Lufkin High School will not have classes Monday due to storm damage to the campus.
The Lufkin Police Department is warning rivers of traffic light malfunctions across the city.
Traffic lights are out or have been damaged at:
- Intersection of Lufkin Avenue and Timberland Drive - Lights out
- Intersection of Frank Avenue and Lufkin Avenue - Lights out
- Intersection of First Street and Medford Drive - Traffic lights damaged
- Live Oak Drive - Power lines in roadway
Trees have been reported down at:
- Intersection of Ford Chapel Road at Renfro Street
- Farm-to-Market Road 324 (Outside the loop in Lufkin)
- Valley Drive (Near the senior citizens center)
Kilgore police have reported the following road closures due to high water or downed trees:
- Houston Street
- Meadowbrook Park
- Willow Springs Street
- South Martin Street
To submit a damage report, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.