August 13, 2012

Residents assessing damage after storms blew through Tarrant County

Most of those still without power are in north Fort Worth, according to electricity provider Oncor.

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EAGLE MOUNTAIN LAKE - After spending Sunday aboard her boat, Too Much Fun, Stacey Sibley didn't give a second thought to the dark clouds approaching from the north.

She had raced home ahead of the storm to get her dog from her home on Bonds Ranch Road and bring her back to the Lake Country Marina.

"I just thought we were going to get some rain," Sibley said. "I had no idea what was coming."

What came rampaging through Lake Country Marina was a storm packing tropical storm-force winds from Eagle Mountain Lake to the Fort Worth Stockyards, damaging hangars and aircraft at Meacham Field while also leaving thousands without power.

By 7:30 p.m. Monday, about 5,400 customers in north Fort Worth were still waiting for their electricity to be restored, which was down from 55,000 Sunday night, said Oncor spokeswoman Arielle Kaplan. No timeline was given for restoring power.

At 3:00 p.m. today, the American Red Cross opened a Cooling Center/Shelter for those still without power at the Christian Center of Fort Worth, 4301 NE 28th St. Haltom City, TX 76117. It will be open until power is restored.

Whiteout conditions

At Eagle Mountain Lake Sunday night, Sibley found herself in the midst of a storm strong enough to cause two boat docks to break free during the storm and send refrigerators, coolers and other debris floating across the lake.

"It was a total whiteout like in a blizzard," Sibley said. "You couldn't see anything."

Sibley saw her boat dock withstood the storm; Randall Johnson wasn't as fortunate.

He was onboard his 33-foot cabin cruiser that he had just purchased Friday and moved into Lake Country Marina.

From his boat, he saw the winds starting to twist dock's metal roof and said to himself "wow the dock's breaking up" before taking shelter inside his boat, not realizing until later that the dock had broken free and drifted out into the lake.

Lake Country Marina officials said about 40 boats were tied up in the docks when the storm hit. Most suffered minor damage but some were still being towed from the damaged dock and assessed for more serious damage.

Airport hit

At Meacham Field, a 76 mph wind gust blew across the airport damaging 12 aircraft with about three suffering serious damage. A Cessna was picked up and carried over a security fence. Damage to the aircraft could exceed $1 million, said Bill Welstead, the city's director of aviation.

Damage at the airport was still being assessed on Monday and it was still being determined whether the city or tenants would be responsible for repair costs.

Ten hangars at the airport were damaged, two of them suffering seriously. One was moved about 100 feet across the airport and another had one wall ripped open. Welstead said most of the damage was on the east side of the airport. The hangars that sustained the most damage faced north, he said.

Assessing damage

In the Fort Worth Stockyards, most of the damage had been cleaned up by late Monday morning. One awning in front of Maverick Fine Western Wear at the corner of Main and Exchange had been blown down. But businesses were open and tourists were still strolling around the Stockyards.

The Fort Worth Herd, the daily cattle drive put on for tourists, went on as scheduled.

Power outages also caused closures Monday at the TCC Northwest Campus and at the Tarrant Regional Water District administration offices on Northside Drive.

While the area was getting a reprieve from severe weather on Monday, more storms are possible Tuesday night as well as Thursday night and Friday before high temperatures cool down to the lower 90s on Friday.

"It could be a pretty eventful week," said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Huckaby.

Wildfire threat

Despite Sunday night's storms, the wildfire threat will remain high through the middle of the week. Firefighters are still dealing with two wildfires in Palo Pinto County.

"Fortunately, they won't see very strong winds today but that could change on Wednesday when it could be pretty breezy," Huckaby said. 'We could see wildfires, storms and strong winds all during this week."

The storms caused flight delays at DFW Airport Sunday night but most flights were back on schedule this morning.

Staff writer David Kent and Domingo Ramirez Jr. contributed to this report.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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