May 20, 2015: by Sandi Argo
Portions of Jack County were hit, once again, with a powerful storm that resulted in damage to numerous structures, stripped or toppled trees and produced swollen creeks. The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch early in the afternoon, then came a severe thunderstorm warning, which evolved into a tornado warning.
The reports of funnel clouds and flooding came pouring in on social media, making people aware of the storm and its damaging effects. People seeking a secure shelter mistakenly went to the Jack County Courthouse, where they were quickly taken to the High School for better protection. According to Jack County Fire Chief Jim Richardson “The courthouse is not a dedicated ‘safe shelter’. There really isn’t a great deal of protection there because of the glass in the windows and doors, and in the event that a tornado hits nearby, the hallway could become like a wind tunnel. The interior hallways of the school was a much safer place for them to go.” The county is making preparations for the next round of rain, which the National Weather Services say could come as soon as this evening. “Any water we get could cause issues. Our run-off is done for now, any water will just accumulate and could cause flooding” Richardson said. The County Fire Department was called to do a high water rescue this morning when 2 teens were caught in the results of a swollen creek north of town. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
Meanwhile, back at the Mesquite Trails Apartments and the area around Pine and 5th, clean up was underway for homes that were slammed by high winds around 10:30 pm, Tuesday night. Although residents are certain that it was a tornado, the “official” word has not been released yet. Whether it was a tornado or a down-burst, the damage remains. Trees were downed, electricity was out and 3 families were displaced from the apartment complex when a portion of the roof was ripped off. The apartment of Peggy Clayton and her 89 year old mother, Frances, took the brunt. The roof collapsed into the bedroom, damaging furniture, flooring and even an oxygen tank was covered with the insulation. Fortunately they were able to get out and retreat to a friends apartment, also in the complex.
Jean Wolfe, manager of the complex, reported that 3 families have to be moved (fortunately they have apartments available) and the large sign for the complex was blown a distance away. “I looked out the window after a big ‘thump’ and saw trees and limbs flying about”. All told, 4 apartments were deemed unlivable.
With the forecast of more storms in the days to come, its a sure bet that eyes will be turned to the skies.