Cactus was without power Wednesday and the rest of Moore County experienced scattered outages as extreme high winds battered the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. At one point, Xcel Energy reported that 121,000 people were without power throughout the region. By 9 a.m. Thursday, the count was down to 46,000.
According to Wes Reeves, spokesman for Xcel, the company has had to deploy more than 300 employees and contractors to restore power to customers. Tragically, Xcel also reports that one worker was killed Wednesday night in Hereford working on downed power lines.
"Our thoughts are with the family of the line worker who lost his life Wed. evening while working to restore power in Hereford, Texas. We are working with authorities to determine the cause of the incident and are committed to supporting our employee's family and coworkers during this difficult time," said Reeves. The number to report a downed power line is 1-800-895-1999. Xcel urges caution around downed power lines; persons should assume that they are energized.
According to the National Weather Service, Moore County experienced 45 to 60 mph sustained winds all day Wednesday, with sustained winds of 61 mph between 1-2 p.m. Around 2 p.m., the weather service measured gusts of 77 mph at the airport.
The winds turned over multiple semi trucks. One witness counted nine overturned trucks between Dumas and Amarillo. Throughout the county, the winds damaged roofs, signs, lights, trees and other things, keeping city and county emergency responders busy into the night. Cactus Fire Chief Tim Nicholson reported "quite a bit" of damage in Cactus. One apartment building lost its roof and multiple trailer homes were damaged. An uprooted tree fell on a vehicle.
Sunray suffered damage, as well. Wind ripped the roof off Broxson's furniture, sending it through an electrical transformer and on to Third Street. City Manager KJ Perry said crews were working Thursday morning to move the debris and reopen the street. He said the city suffered uprooted trees and other widespread but "minor" damage. Winds took down a light pole at the baseball field.
In Dumas, a tree fell into a house, sending at least one person to the hospital.
"We had a multitude of calls," said Dumas Fire Chief Ron Pray. "We were running, I actually had to call in our off-duty crews to cover the station, because of the call volume we were getting. We got some damage to some of our trucks due to the wind." Thursday morning they were still responding to calls for "electrical issues."
According to R.J. Trujillo of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), two businesses on Dumas Avenue lost roofs. A street light across from the Moore County Courthouse fell. Only the electrical wire kept it from hitting the street until city workers could safely bring it down.
Officials across the county are still working on totaling up the exact extent of losses. According to Nicholson, The estimate of damages in Cactus is $62,429, $3,000 of which was public infrastructure.
Despite the damage, Moore County Hospital District personnel treated only minor injuries.
Fire fighters from Moore County joined their colleagues from Hutchinson County and elsewhere to battle a large grassfire between FM 1913 and State Highway 152 Wednesday. FM 1913 and FM 3395 in Hutchinson County were closed for several hours Wednesday. That fire also jumped FM 1319 near the Moore/Hutchinson County line, causing that roadway to be closed into the evening hours Wednesday. By Thursday morning, the fire had burned 2,500 acres in Hutchinson and Moore Counties and was 80 percent out, according to Chief Pray.
According to the weather service, Thursday’s weather was also windy, though not as bad as Wednesday, with sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph.