TEMPLE: More than 30 injured, hundreds of homes, businesses damaged following Wednesday's storms

According to city officials, west Temple and south Temple were the areas that received the most damage.

TEMPLE: More than 30 injured, hundreds of homes, businesses damaged following Wednesday's storms

TEMPLE, Texas — Over 30 people were injured and 100 to 200 homes and businesses were damaged following a potential tornado that struck Temple, Texas Wednesday evening, according to City of Temple and Bell County officials.

The National Weather Service has yet to confirm whether or not a tornado struck the area, but one thing is for certain: "Portions of the city sustained significant damage [Wednesday] night," said Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds.

With winds exceeding 80 mph, the most damage was reported out of West Temple where the possible tornado struck, especially in areas like Lake Point and Lake Point Terrace being hit the hardest. South Temple had the second most reported damage, according to city officials.

Almost immediately after the storm had passed, fire stations and crews got to work assisting others that had been affected by the storm. Two crews needed to clear their own paths by their respective stations before getting out on the road to assist.

Those who were injured mainly received minor injuries, officials said. Many of them were able to take themselves to medical care while some had to be driven by Temple and Killeen emergency management teams.

Cleanup expected take "awhile"

A company that the City of Temple collaborated with after the 2021 ice storm will be in town Friday to assist with removing debris. The cleanup is expected to take "a while," they said.

"We're prepared...it's going to take a while, but we are prepared for this, and the City of Temple will be just fine," said Temple Mayor Tim Davis said.

Folks are heavily advised to avoid these areas so first responders and emergency crews can enter, assist and assess the damage from the storm.

Reynolds also advised those who were out to avoid areas of high water.

"Stay out of there... The last thing (first responders) need is a bunch of people that don't need to be there causing traffic jams and just being in the way.... please stay out of there," Davis said.

In response to the storms, Temple PD requested and received aid from a number of agencies, including:

  • Killeen Police Department
  • United States Marshals
  • Texas Department of Wildlife
  • Temple Independent School District
  • Troy Police Department
  • Rogers Police Department
  • Gatesville Public Works

Access to some areas of the city is restricted.

"I know there is a natural curiosity to want to look at the damage throughout the community.... Please honor our efforts to protect certain areas as we continue to have downed power lines and extensive damage throughout some areas," Reynolds said. "We ask everyone please do not drive around barricades, cones or police vehicles. They have been placed in specific areas for your safety."

Reynolds emphasized that emergency needs should be directed to 911, while non-emergency needs should go to 254-298-5500.

Temple Fire Chief Mitch Randles said he believes search and rescue portions are over, but additional staff members are available just in case issues arise.

"We do stand ready still go to back into that search and rescue mode if needed for those that are affected."

RESOURCES

Randles also provided some advice for residents and neighbors that planned to work on their own cleanup efforts:

  • Use extreme caution around power lines and do not approach them, as there is no way to determine whether or not they are energized
    • Reports can be made to Oncor or 911
    • Stay away from trees and limbs entangled in power lines
  • Shut gas leaks off if you feel it can be done safely
    • Those who feel they are unable to shut off the gas leak can call 911 and inform them of the situation
  • Evacuate areas where there is a gas smell and call 911
  • Only clear limbs if you're able to operate machinery--like chainsaws-- to clear the debris
    • Tree limbs and branches may snap back or fall in unexpected ways
    • A professional's assistance is advised
  • Be sure to dress yourself in the proper safety equipment if you are going to be outside

In addition to the damage, the county issued a Disaster Declaration, encouraging those impacted by the storm to report damage to the Texas Division of Emergency Management through its Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) Damage Survey.

"This Declaration recognizes that the scope of this event has exceeded our capacity to fully address it at a local level," said Bell County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Reinhard. "Through a Disaster Declaration we are able to access additional resources from the State."

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