During an emergency meeting Thursday, May 5, 2016, Smith County Commissioners received an update on disaster recovery and clean-up efforts and voted to extend the Disaster Declaration issued last week.
Smith County Judge Joel Baker issued a Disaster Declaration late Friday night, April 29, 2016, following the tornados in Lindale. The Disaster Declaration also covers flood damage that hit later Friday night in the Whitehouse, Troup and Arp areas.
On Thursday, the Commissioners Court voted to ratify and extend the judge’s Disaster Declaration, which is required by law.
Smith County Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson said damage to resident’s property that is not insured must be reported to the state and meet a threshold amount for the county and its residents to be eligible for any disaster assistance. The Fire Marshal’s Office can be reached at 903-590-2652.
Those who had damage to property that was insured are not included. Damage to private ponds or lakes will also not be included in the Disaster Declaration.
Ms. McCoy-Wasson said 169 homes in Lindale were affected by the tornadoes, either with minor or major damage. About 10 of those were completely destroyed.
Damage to Southern Smith County included flooding inside the city limits of Whitehouse and Troup, and Ms. McCoy-Wasson said the cities are working to get her the numbers on the damage they sustained. She said Troup High School and Middle School suffered water damage.
Ms. McCoy-Wasson said there was also a train derailment over the weekend between Troup and Arp, where 1,000 feet of track collapsed after the heavy rains. Three brand new engines were damaged and about 30 train cars toppled. Two of those cars were carrying airbags, which are considered hazardous materials. The derailment is being investigated by Union Pacific and Hazmat officials; and although the derailed cars haven’t been cleaned up yet, the train track is reportedly up and running again, Ms. McCoy-Wasson said.
The Fire Marshal’s Office is still getting calls daily from people all over the county reporting property damage.
Ms. McCoy-Wasson said they are trying to get volunteer organizations to help with the clean-up, but some of those organizations are spread thin because they are helping with disasters in South Texas and Louisiana.
The Smith County Road and Bridge Department on Wednesday opened a debris collection site in the Lindale area. Vegetation debris is being collected at the site, at 10347 Farm-to-Market Road 16, just east of County Road 4104. Furniture and household debris will not be accepted at the collection site.