Lubbock's coordinated response to storm damage

Lubbock's coordinated response to storm damage

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photo provided by NWS photo provided by NWS

LUBBOCK, Texas - A confirmed tornado in Anton severely damaged a home and Lubbock strains under the wind. 

The National Weather Service rated the tornado that hit the barn and home in Anton, an EF1. It had winds of 110 miles per hour. The home owner, Brenda Grace, said the weather was nice outside, then it hit, and sounded like gun shots.

"This was not your classic what we call a super sell thunderstorm tornado, this was weaker circulations embedded in a line and embedded in the rain, so it's tough to see for spotters, but it's also tough for us to catch on radar," Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Jody James said. 

James said it's important to be aware of when severe weather is happening and what to do.

"If the construction for your home included a tornado safe room, that's designated as such, that or underground in a cell or a basement type structure, that's the best," James said.

If you don't have that, a small interior room towards the center of your home should be sufficient. 

James said, "wind is wind," and while the patterns that hit Lubbock Wednesday may be different, the danger's the same.

"Once you get wind and wind gusts up to 60 miles an hour, that's kind of the lower threshold of damage and then as the winds go up from there, either the sustained or the gusts, the damage is exponential," James said.

The work involves different groups around the city responding to damage. It didn't just start Wednesday morning.

"We spend a lot of time in planning, in meeting, and really going through the what ifs," Lubbock Fire Rescue, Chief Kevin Ivy said.

Part of that is anticipating the event and shutting down the Bailey County Well Field, but there are no issues with water supply.

"That's an older field, all of the power out there is overhead power, so it's really susceptible to a high wind event," City Manager, Jarrett Atkinson said.

 Lubbock Power & Light has been working on power outages, lines down, and poles broken. At the most, fifty-one hundred customers were out of power at once. Most people had it back within an hour.

"The hardest thing about a storm like this it hits your entire system at the same time, consistently. So it's not like you can put crews in one part of the city versus the other, they have to be evenly dispersed across the city, so as these outages start coming in, they're in the area and can fix them," Lubbock Power & Light, Matt Rose said.

Lubbock Fire Rescue was equipped with additional staff and resources, but Captain Ivy said it has been slower than expected for his crew.

"As of yet, other than very small issues regarding maybe sparking power lines, things like that, other than obviously increased call load, fire wise it's been a pretty slow day for us and again, that's a very good thing," Captain Ivy said.

In addition to patrol officers, Lubbock Police Department used detectives and staff to respond to issues like driving hazards, directing traffic, and alarms.

"If you see something, call that into us, don't assume we know about it because you may be the first one to call that into us," Captain Stevens said.

The Emergency Operation Center will re-open Thursday morning at 8 a.m. City Manager, Jarrett Atkinson hopes to have the city cleaned up by the end of day Thursday. If you have damage to report, call 311.

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