Damage in Denton County could reach into the tens of millions of dollars from last weeks’ devastating storms, though it could be days before officials know the full extent of the damage.
Mark Hanna, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, said Monday that insurance adjusters are still working in the area, talking to local residents and assessing the damages.
“It will be a week before the dollar figure finally comes to a stop,” Hanna said.
Insurers expect the bulk of the property damage in North Texas resulting from Thursday’s storms will be in Denton and Denton County, Hanna said. The storms rolled over populated areas and damaged buildings and vehicles from Krum to the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University before moving into Collin County. Warning sirens were activated, sending residents to seek shelter.
The storms hit as Denton County officials were in the process of activating the Code Red program, which sends out weather alerts through calls or texts, said Jody Gonzalez, the county’s emergency management director.
“A siren gives you a sound, but what does it mean? What’s going on?” asked Gonzalez. “[It’s] important to get a message that tells you what is going on and what precautionary measures to take.”
County commissioners will be briefed on the program later this month, Gonzalez said. Krum already is using the Code Red program, and Krum Fire Chief Ken Swindle urged his residents last week after the storms to sign up for the program to receive mobile alerts about bad weather.
Hanna repeated the cautions sent out last week by local law enforcement and the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association to use care in selecting a roofer, since roofing contractors are not licensed in Texas. He encouraged people to work with their insurance adjuster and let them be the first to assess the damage, rather than an out-of-town contractor who knocks on the door.
He also cautioned people to be wary of offers for a free consultation from out-of-town lawyers, too, since they often work on contingency.
“Work with someone local, that you know, that you went to school with or go to church with,” Hanna said. “There’s a reason they are still in business — they’re doing a good job. With someone from out of town, it’s a roll of the dice.”
Denton Municipal Electric released a brief report Monday on the city-owned utility’s response to storms, underscoring efforts made by crews who faced baseball-size hail and 82-mph wind gusts as the waves of thunderstorms rolled through Denton on Thursday afternoon and evening.
Between 6 p.m. and 1:37 a.m., crews restored power after 27 outages that affected a total of 3,385 customers.
And despite the strength of the storms, the power stayed on for more than 92 percent of Denton Municipal Electric customers that night, city officials said.
General manager Phil Williams credited the utility’s tree-trimming program for helping keep power on. The utility has reduced outages by 59 percent in the past five years, officials said. In addition, more than 50 percent of the utility’s distribution lines are underground and less susceptible to weather.
Meteorologists from the National Weather Service visited Denton on Friday and determined that, while many areas of the city suffered damage from the wind and hail, no tornado touched down in the city.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.