Bastrop News

Smithville slammed by storm

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The news flash that came to Smithville-area residents at 3:26 a.m. Monday through a phone-message alert system was ominous: “Phone system is down at the Smithville Police Department and the power is out for most of the city.”

Four minutes later at 3:30 a.m., a second message from the Nixle alert system, advised: “Please stay inside your homes. The Police Department is aware of power outages and downed trees. If you have an emergency – dial 911, NOT (sic) the Police Department direct line.”

In fact trees were down pretty much all over the place, according to radio traffic heard on a police scanner – from the neighborhoods around the central business district to out on FM 535. At 3:59 a.m. a first responder reported over the radio, “People think they heard a tornado sound in the area (of FM 304 and FM 304) – and they’re probably right.” But that report could not be confirmed.

The morning’s first light would reveal multiple streets littered with large felled trees and smaller branches and leaves covering virtually every street. There were also electrical lines down – hence the power outage. And while it could not be officially confirmed, one first responder at the scene of a felled tree said he didn’t think there had been any fires in residences. He also said local nursing homes and the hospital have back-up generators to run electricity.

One bright note during the fury that was the storm, was that a motorist elected to try and help first responders. A first responder could be heard over the scanner saying, “A lady is going to get in her car and travel west and see if anything else is down,” referring to reports of several trees that fell onto the two-lane FM 535. Another first responder reported from a different location, “I’m pretty sure somebody is gonna plow into this tree” if it’s not moved. Crews from the city, county and TxDOT worked to cut up and remove trees, using a dozer in some instances.

As one crew person reported that “Kovar Road is now open,” the sound of chainsaw could be heard prominently in the background.

The City of Smithville reported on its website that surrounding areas received approximately 4-5 inches of rain during the early morning.  “Given the fact that the ground was already saturated (and the amount of rain we received in just 2 hours), the City’s drainage system could not adequately handle the storm water flow.  As a result, we experienced widespread flooding, street closures, fallen trees, and power outages.  City crews and emergency personnel did their best to respond to drainage issues, traffic accidents, and downed power lines throughout town.”

The City also warned of another round of thunderstorms (some possibly severe) expected to hit this evening. “Please take necessary precautions to protect your property.  Clear any drains or culverts on your property that may be clogged with debris,” City officials advised. 

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