Assessment team shares tornado damage totals, possible avenues for reimbursement

Published 12:08 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

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Data from the Port Arthur tornado that hit a section of the city April 10 sheds light on the damage and response.

Jermey Houston, deputy chief at Port Arthur Police Department and emergency management coordinator for the city, said between the hours of 5 and 9 a.m. authorities received 39 emergency calls on 911 lines. There were another 123 calls for service made in reference to the storm, debris and alarms.

Some of those calls, Houston said, were from people wanting officers to check on residents where the storm hit the hardest.

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“It was later confirmed that the City of Port Arthur was impacted by an EF2 tornado with winds at about 120 mph,” Houston told Port Arthur City Council members this week.

An assessment team hit the streets and learned the most heavily impacted area was between Shreveport Avenue around 19th Street running diagonal to the area of Rose Hill at Woodworth Boulevard.

“The assessment of the heavily impacted areas revealed approximately 106 residences damaged here in the city in that area and another six commercial businesses were impacted,” Houston said.

According to information from Entergy Texas, a total of 2,863 households in Port Arthur and Sabine Pass lost power the morning of April 10.

Crews were able to access the damage and begin restoring the power safely during the remainder of the storm.

A majority of the power was restored by 8 p.m., and the remaining households were restored the following morning due to tornado damage.

“By working with Port Arthur City officials, Entergy service crews were able to focus on key areas of concerns from the city while providing updates to residents via hourly communication on the city’s websites as crews serviced damaged areas,” said Debbie Bridgeman, senior communications specialist, corporate communications Entergy Texas.

“This allowed both Port Arthur and Sabine Pass residents to utilize our app, which helped by providing accurate restore times for all those affected by the storms.”

Less than a week after the tornado, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick signed a disaster declaration due to the imminent threat of suffering widespread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property resulting from tornado damages and conditions.

This was followed by a disaster declaration issued by Governor Greg Abbott for seven regional counties — Hardin, Jefferson, Newton, Panola, Shelby and Tyler.

Houston said the city and county are calculating damage expenditures at this time. In order to receive reimbursement, Jefferson County must reach a damage threshold of $1.3 million, and for the state to reach the threshold; the amount must be $56.2 million.

“However, we did speak with our regional coordinator, who stated that due to the disaster declarations being issued, there’s a possibility of Small Business Administration loans being issued to this area,” Houston said.

A timeline on when Houston would receive the decision on the issue is not available.

The April 10 tornado led to downed trees, damaged homes, a destroyed church and more.