Storm fizzles in Hopkins County
From Staff Reports

Interstate 30 east between the 139 and 140 mile markers proved to be a trouble spot for motorists Saturday, during the thunderstorm resulting from Hurricane Rita. Two accidents, within about an hour’s time, were thought to be the result of vehicles traveling at unsafe speeds on the waterlogged roadway hydroplaning. One car crashed into a guard railing while a second overturned in the median of the interstate. Neither accident resulted in serious injuries.
Staff Photo By Faith Huffman

Sept. 26, 2005 - Had Hurricane Rita’s potential been realized in Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County, nearly everybody was ready.

City and county emergency response plans were activated in anticipation of flooding as a result of forecast heavy rains of 25 inches along with winds just under hurricane strength.

After making landfall, the storm followed the projected path until weather patterns moved the storm further east and allowed it to lose strength. 

�What a difference a day makes,� said Marc Maxwell, Sulphur Springs city manager. �We went from worrying about it and being prepared for the worst, 20 to 25 inches of rain, and in the end we were just hoping we would get enough rain to do us some good.�

Saturday was marked with typical thunderstorm damages, some downed tree limbs across roadways and power lines causing sporadic power outages in the city for a few hours and in remote areas of the county through Sunday. City and county fire crews responded to a number of calls for downed, arching power lines.

The city service center, where city vehicles including fire, police and utility as well as Hopkins County Emergency Medical Service get fuel, was without electric service for a period of time, but fuel was still available.

�Actually, we were prepared with a generator to operate our fuel pumps,� Maxwell said.

Generators were also utilized to power necessary operations for the various agencies, with the agencies cooperating so that those experiencing phone, radio or communications difficulties were able to work through other departments until their systems were once again up and functioning.

The most significant difficulties firemen experienced were keeping motorists, undeterred by the storm, from driving under downed or broken power lines. 

Sulphur Springs firefighters responded Saturday to reports of downed power lines on South Davis Street, on Main Street at Garrison Street, on Interstate 30 at East Industrial Drive, on College Street at Oak Avenue, on North Davis Street, on Longino Street at California Street and on Ponder Street.

In the county, power lines were reported down on State Highway 19 north at Mahoney Road, on South Mill Street in Cumby, on U.S. Highway 67 in Brashear, on County Road 3470 in North Hopkins, on County Road 2322 in Martin Springs, on Smith Street in Como, on County Road 1100 in Brashear, on County Road 4785 in Brashear and on County Road 2324 in Greenpond.

County work crews and Texas Department of Transportation workers responded to reports Saturday of trees and debris on the following roadways and locations: County Road 4760 in North Hopkins, County Road 2301, State Highway 154 south, County Road 3570, County Road 1134 in Miller Grove, County Road 3380 in North Hopkins, County Road 4738, FM 2285 in North Hopkins, County Road 4129 in Cumby, County Road 1100 in Brashear and County Road 2402 in North Hopkins. Officials were also notified of trees down on County Road 3504 in Mahoney and on County Road 3541 Sunday morning.

As usual, the combination of rain and traffic resulted in two traffic accidents that were concentrated in the eastern part of the county.

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, Hopkins County sheriff’s deputies and Hopkins County fire and emergency services responded two times within an hour Saturday between the 139 and 140 mile marker on Interstate 30.

In the first accident, a car hydroplaned and struck a guard rail just near the 139 mile marker. The second crash occurred about 30 minutes later when another car was thought to have hydroplaned and overturned into the center median of the interstate.

Shelters to house people evacuating the area targeted by the storm were opened in Sulphur Springs, but area communities housed the temporary residents.

�Shelters were open around us in Paris and Mount Vernon,� Maxwell said. �We never had the need to open our shelter here.�

The shelter at Wesley United Methodist Church housed Hurricane Katrina survivors up until late Friday when the last family was moved into temporary housing.

As the remnants of the hurricane moved out of the area late Saturday, leaving behind between one and two inches of rain, the city manager said he felt the storm had provided some good training for emergency responders.

�In the end, this was good practice in becoming more prepared for future events,� Maxwell said. �Really, that is all there was.�

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