Icy conditions hit Deep East Texas, cause wrecks, power outages

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Emergency crews responded to several wrecks on Loop 287 early Wednesday morning after the latest round of winter weather blew through Deep East Texas. No injuries were reported.

A pick-up truck pulling a large trailer jack-knifed near the exit ramp for Ford Chapel Road around 6 a.m. Wednesday. The dodge pickup wound up with its front bumper against a guard rail.

"This is my fourth [wreck]," tow truck driver Nick Harper said.

Harper added that he knew Wednesday would be a busy day.

The jack-knifed trailer blocked both northbound lanes of traffic, and Lufkin Police officers were diverting northbound traffic onto the Lufkin Avenue feeder road.

Southbound traffic on Loop 287 in that area is being detoured onto the Ford Chapel Road feeder road.

Another wreck occurred on the Atkinson Drive overpass. Northbound traffic is now flowing normally on that portion of the loop.

Detective J.B. Smith, a spokesman for the Lufkin Police Department, said there were 11 wrecks between 4:30 a.m. and 8:16 a.m. The wrecks involved 14 vehicles.

A KTRE viewer called in a news tip at 7:35 a.m. He said one of the bridges in the river bottom on State Highway 21 West between Nacogdoches and Alto is blocked. Motorists are being turned around and told to take an alternate route.

Texas Department of Transportation has sanding crews out and about treating bridges and overpasses all over Nacogdoches and Angelina counties.

As of 11 a.m., the US 59 connector ramps on the south loop were re-opened.

According to the TxDOT road conditions Web site, ice and snow have been reported on bridges and overpasses all over Nacogdoches and Angelina counties.

The entry for Angelina County states, "Motorists should use caution traveling, especially over bridges and overpasses. Watch for heavy equipment that is out patrolling."

TxDOT Spokesperson Kathi White said that they are always looking for ways to improve their response.

"We do evaluate ourselves in how we do with the storms, but what people need to realize is that our crews are consistently going around and around," White said.

But not all drivers were eager to get out in the morning commute.

"I understand the people that have to go to work but the ones out sightseeing and look around  are probably the ones that need to stay home," Dibool resident Corey Funderburk said.

"We saw the reports of the ice and me and my wife decided to lay low this morning," Lufkin resident Thomas Rainey said.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative was reporting that it had approximately ,500 power outages on Nacogdoches, Shelby, and Panola counties, according.

That number was down to approximately 500 DETEC members still without power by 10 a.m. and 100 by 11 a.m., Johnson said.

"Crews are currently working to restore power ias quickly and as safely as possible," Johnson said.

Johnson said DETEC customers who are still experiencing power outages should call 1-800-392-5986.

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.