Denton officials helping with tornado emergency response

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Al Key/DRC
A single large bolt of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes very near downtown Denton around midnight Wednesday during the severe weather that hit north Texas May 15, 2013.
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Some Denton officials are in Hood and Johnson counties today to help with the emergency response to the tornadoes that killed at least six people and injured dozens more Wednesday night.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds said all six people who died were adults, although he did not have their names or other details. He said 37 others were injured, and about 110 homes were damaged or destroyed.

Deeds said the death toll could rise as seven people remain unaccounted for and nearby rural areas just outside the Rancho Brazos subdivision had not been searched thoroughly.

In the hardest hit subdivision this morning, police and sheriff's deputies blocked off the neighborhood. Debris littered the roads approaching the subdivision, and volunteers with the Red Cross were out in force, seeking to help those in need find shelter and other provisions.

Ryan Grelle, spokesman for the Denton Police Department, is a member of the North Texas Public Information Officers group, said he is being deployed to help in Granbury Thursday and Friday.

If they need his help more, he could be gone for as long as a week, he said.

Jody Gonzalez, Emergency management coordinator for the county, said they sent the Denton County CERT team, along with one full time emergency management worker, to assist with damage assessment at the request of Johnson County Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon, a county logistics vehicle was also sent down to aid in the same mission, he said.

Denton County In Denton, the National Weather Service reported 1.86 inches of rain at Denton Enterprise Airport between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Denton County sheriff's officials also said they received no reports of storm damage, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Sandi Brackeen.

Grelle also said Denton police also received no damage reports in the city.

Ray Fletcher, emergency management coordinator for Cooke County said the only thing reported there was a few trees down in the Mountain Springs area.

“Good rain, we sure needed it,” he said.

Montague County Sheriff Paul Cunningham said his county had two confirmed tornadoes one on the south end of the county around Amon Carter Lake and the other around Lake Nocona up north.

No injuries were reported. Cunningham said one home was destroyed, two more that had severe damage along with several roofs.

“We had one vehicle that an individual was in that flipped over and scooted down the road with him still in it,” Cunningham said.

Several areas were without power for a while.

Thursday morning Cunningham said officials were helping people clean up and check on the injured.

Wise County, Sheriff David Walker said residents were “extremely lucky” during the storms. The county reported no injuries or major damage.

“We had one confirmed tornado touchdown,” he said. “But weather spotters who called in reported multiple touchdowns.”

By 7 a.m. at least 50 people were without power, but officials expected to have power restored by noon Thursday, Walker said.

Areas of Wise County received between 1.7 and 4.4 inches of rain and pea to golf ball size hail, he said.

Wise County officials also offered to assist Hood and Johnson counties with relief efforts.

“I’m pretty sure they’re getting a lot of help,” Walker said. “I talked the sheriffs in each county and told them that if they need any extra dispatchers or deputies, the offer will stay on the table.

Pat Patey, a spokesman with the Salvation Army in Dallas said teams are on standby to help with relief efforts.

The Salvation Army has a volunteer disaster team in Hood County to help tornado victims and a mobile disaster kitchen from Fort Worth was stationed near Granbury offering snacks and hydration Thursday morning until 3:30a.m.

Patey said Salvation Army volunteers are talking to the Emergency Management Office to find out what is needed.

He also suggested the community provides monetary donations by going to www.salvationarmydfw.org or calling 1-800 SAL-ARMY.

Tom Newell, chairman of the board of directors of the Denton Community Food Center in an email that said that officials with the local food banks have instructed the center to stand by and be ready to provide assistance, but not send in supplies without request of the local authorities.

“It actually causes more confusion and problems to send unsolicited food, clothing, etc., as we have seen in West, Texas most recently,” he said.


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