City leaders share reactions to storm’s outages, downed trees and general damage

Published 2:48 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

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This week’s heavy rain and winds led to fallen trees, downed power lines and street flooding.

Andy Tinger with the National Weather Service Lake Charles said the highest wind gust of 85 mph reported at Jack Brooks Regional Airport during Thursday’s storms.

Some areas saw small hail, pea and dime sized, while there were reports of hail up to 1 inch in Kountze.

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No tornadoes were reported in Port Arthur and Mid County, but weather officials believe there may have been damage from straight level winds.

Beaumont saw most of the rain for this area with between three to six inches, while the Port Arthur area had between one to three inches, Tinger said.

This led to some street flooding in low-lying areas and some underpasses.

Entergy Texas reported at the peak of the storm there were approximately 37,600 customers without power in its region. Restoration teams worked through the day to restore power to more than 88 percent of customers impacted by Thursday’s severe weather before another round of storms rolled through the region on Friday morning.

As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, approximately 13,100 customers are without power, according to information from Entergy.

“Damage assessments are still in progress, but initial reports show the back-to-back storms caused significant flooding and damage to Entergy Texas substations, transmission lines, and distribution poles,” according to a news release from Entergy.

“Additional resources like high water vehicles and airboats are being used to safely restore power, and Entergy Texas requested additional crews from other states to help expedite restoration efforts. The expanded restoration team will use every resource possible and work around the clock until all customers have power.”

A downed tree blocks a section of South Fifth Street Thursday in Nederland. (Courtesy photo)

Nederland City Manager Chris Duque said they had reports of downed trees and overturned campers, as well as downed power lines.

The storm did impact the city’s water treatment plant, which was running on generator power.

“We’ve been in touch with Entergy, and they have been very responsive considering the amount of damage,” Duque said. “They did an amazing job.”

Now, as residents are cleaning up from the storms, the city mapped out a plan to collect green waste.

Starting Monday, solid water crews will work overtime to collect green waste, most of which was documented south of Nederland Avenue.

The city is asking residents to place debris in separate piles with unbagged green waste such as limbs, tree branches, logs, leaves and venation in one pile and debris such as fence material, siding and shingles in a separate pile.

In addition, contractors hired to address a tree on property need to have a permit, which is free, from the city. The contractor is responsible for hauling off the green waste.

Duque said the reason these contractors need to have a permit is to ensue the safety of the residents.

“Experience shows, sometimes in disasters there are fly-by-night contractors who, unfortunately, take advantage people. This (permit) makes sure to protect residents,” Duque said.

One positive in the midst of storm damage is the fact neighbors got together to help each other.

“With every disaster it seems to be what Nederland does, step up and help their neighbors. It reminds you what the best part of the community is,” Duque said.

For more information on debris separation or placement, call 409-723-1503.

Duque expressed gratitude for the city employees and staff who stepped up to the plate Thursday, answering phones and helping in other ways.

Port Neches Fire Chief Eloy Vega said the city had reports of several downed trees around town and numerous limbs.

The storms led officials to cancel Thursday night of RiverFest, though the festival will go on Friday through Sunday as scheduled.

The city of Groves saw damage from winds as well. Interim City Marshal Christopher Robin said there were downed trees in various areas of town, some of which struck homes or vehicles that were parked.

Barricades were set up in flood prone areas but once the rain stopped, the water receded.

At some point there were five to seven roads that were impassible but crews worked quickly to remove trees and debris from the roadways.