Power still out for 30 percent of storm victims after San Augustine tornado, judge says

Power still out for 30 percent of storm victims after San Augustine tornado, judge says
San Augustine power substation was damaged by a tornado on Wednesday night.

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - County leaders in San Augustine said Tuesday that power crews have restored electricity to nearly 70 percent of people who lost power after last week’s tornado.

County judge Jeff Boyd said, from a county standpoint, San Augustine has quickly recovered power to most residents. A tornado damaged much of the city last Wednesday, including a substation that provided power to much of the city and surrounding areas of the county.

Boyd suggested at that time that power could take up to a week to be restored. However, crews had power back for 70 percent of residents in just 24 hours.

“The city, well most of the damage was, I’m not even sure, they probably had 200 poles that were snapped,” Boyd said. "They brought in 7 crews from other areas.

“By Friday, we hope to have about 95 percent of everybody with power, and hopefully have that other 5 percent by Sunday."

Boyd said the biggest hold up in restoring power for everyone is the fact that the city and county is still dealing with debris before they crews can set new poles and hang news power lines.

“When we say debris, we’re not talking small trees. These are 200, 300-year-old oak trees that are huge,” Boyd explained. “That’s been the biggest obstacle, and we’ve had crews, city and county and volunteers, to get that done."

CHI St. Luke’s Memorial in San Augustine was evacuated after the facility lost initial power, and had to rely on an inconsistent generator to operate. The facility temporarily diverted emergency care patients while maintenance crews worked.

“It decreases the amount of services we can offer to the public,” said Ashley London, director of patient care services at CHI St. Luke’s. “With us having power restored back to us Friday around 8 o’clock, we were able to downgrade from ambulance diversion to CT diversion.”

London said the facility was back up and running at full capacity on Tuesday. Even with the inconvenience Wednesday brought, London said the facility could have treated anyone who was in serious need.

“We work really closely with all of the hospitals within our market -- Lufkin, Livingston, and the larger Texas division -- to have solid emergency operation processes in place and downtime procedures,” said London. “This gave us the opportunity to put those into effect, and test where we had weaknesses and strengths.”

As for debris removal, Boyd said there’s a lot of work still to be done. It’s unclear whether the county will qualify for federal help, but Boyd said the community has come to rely on themselves to get the job done.

“It’s just been a big, big group effort, and everybody is moving forward,” said Boyd. “We’re just happy it wasn’t worse.”

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