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Straight-line winds leave mark on Lockhart

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By Miles Smith

LPR Editor

No tornadoes were reported in Lockhart or other areas of Caldwell County when a major storm system moved through the area on Sunday night, but straight-line winds estimated between 70 and 80 mph caused plenty of damage to structures, trees and utilities in the area, according to reports from various city and county officials.

Damage was reported to overhead doors at Fashion Glass and Mirror, to an awning at a gas station in Maxwell, to a shade structure at the Jason K. Lafleur Soccer Complex and at the Lockhart City Cemetery, which City Manager Steve Lewis said sustained downed trees and limbs.

The canopy of Lockhart’s Exxon station on US 183 was also destroyed by straight-line winds Sunday night.

Captain John Roescher with the Lockhart Police Department said Lockhart firefighters were called to the scene to assist with removing occupants after the awning fell in a way that barricaded the door. No injuries were reported.

The store remains closed until further notice.

The spectacle was first documented on social media by many area shutterbugs who stopped to capture mobile phone images.

“I live just up the road,” said Lockhart resident Greg Black, who had dismounted his motorcycle Monday morning to snap some photos of the damage to the gas station. “I’m not out looking for damage, but I’d heard about this.”

Reported rainfall was estimated at approximately two inches, but calls to local law enforcement were not in short supply on Sunday night.

Damages also included trees that were uprooted on numerous streets.

According to reports, a tree fell on a major electrical feeder line at San Jacinto Street and Magnolia Street, causing a Bluebonnet electrical line to catch fire.

Lewis said an estimated 2,500 Lockhart customers experienced a power outage at some point during or after the storm, but that all power had been restored by 3 a.m. Monday, except for power to five City of Lockhart customers who were still without power at 8 a.m.

By 4:15 p.m. Monday, that number had been reduced to three. Lewis said the customers still without power had damage to their property which caused their electrical lines to be pulled from the electric meter loop.

 “We had a large spike in calls when the power went out, concerning power outages, reports of sparks from wires and other related questions,” Roescher said. “Many residential and business alarms are triggered by outages. Most notable were two different calls concerning trees on fire at the apartments at 1320 Wilson St. and Prairie Lea and Church near the post office.”

Lockhart Fire Chief Randy Jenkins said the night’s calls included responding to a small structure fire on San Jacinto Street that occurred when the storm damaged the natural gas line behind a stove.

With Chisholm Trail Roundup festivities slated to begin in earnest on Thursday – including the parade on Saturday – Lewis said city staffers were out in force collecting debris.

Lewis said city staff was focusing on clearing debris from the city cemetery and the CTR parade route.

“Residents can stack debris out by the curb for collection,” Lewis said. “Debris should not be placed in the stret where it disrupts drainage, causes a traffic hazard, or where it could reduce traffic visibility at intersections. Currently there are nine city employees on a crew of five dump trucks and four back hoes assigned to collect the storm debris.”

Lewis said residents should contact city staff for assistance when needing to trim near power lines.

No flooding was reported at low water crossings or elsewhere in the county.

While rain chances are slim, windy weather is expected to continue throughout the week.

Carine Chalfoun, chief of Caldwell County Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said no official burn ban was in place at the moment, but urged county residents to get up to speed with TCEQ regulations before burning.

TCEQ regulations include no burning at wind speeds slower than 6 mph or faster than 23 mph.

“It’s a problem, because people think it’s a good idea to burn after a good rain,” Chalfoun said. “They need to notify the sheriff’s office if they are planning on doing a controlled burn.”

For complete TCEQ burning regulations, visit TCEQ.texas.gov/rules/index/html.

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