Damage caused by four tornados last week caused substantial damage, but not enough for County Judge Roger Harmon to issue a declaration of disaster.
“Certain requirements have to be met to call for that, and we just weren’t there,” Harmon said.
Had the declaration been issued, county officials, among other things, would be allowed to enter personal property to help owners downed trees and debris caused by storm damage.
Officials did clear downed trees and debris from county property and roadways.
At the request of Johnson County Emergency Management Director Jamie Moore, however, agreed to rent several roll-off dumpsters to be placed throughout the county for property owners to deposit debris into.
The number of dumpsters and locations remain to be determined but will be announced soon. Commissioners agreed to leave the dumpsters out through May 15.
Moore updated commissioners on the tornados during their Monday meeting.
“Through a combination of the four tornados and several straight line wind events 133 residential structures were damaged,” Moore said.
Damage ranged from minimal to substantial to, in four cases, structures being rendered uninhabitable.
The April 5 storms largely scattered from Joshua to Egan and continued east.
“From what I understand, it’s here and there in a lot of little spots,” Harmon said the morning following the storms.
County Commissioner Rick Bailey said he heard of on injury related to the storm in which the occupant of a mobile home was transported to a hospital but added that he had no additional details of that person’s condition.
Commissioner Mike White and his crew spent most of that night clearing trees and otherwise helping out.
Taxing local rescue resources that night, Moore said, was a “massive pallet fire near Lillian,” which 15 fire departments from in and out of Johnson County responded to.
“We brought in the Red Cross and they set up in Alvarado to help people with supplies and other needs,” Moore said. “And the Texas Baptist Men showed up with chain saws to help clear out trees for people.”
Moore credited Ashley Palmer, with the county’s IT Department, who used Geographic Information System to help Moore pinpoint damage locations throughout the affected areas.
Palmer also informed Moore of an application in the system allowing residents to report their damages, a tool that helped collect and process data substantially quicker, Moore said.
“It’s something we didn’t know we could do, didn’t know we needed but something that forever more we will be using in situations like this,” Moore said.
Storm shelter registration recommended
Moore and Bailey, while discussing the tornado event, touched upon the topic of homes with storm shelters and/or safe rooms.
Both can and should be registered for free at the Johnson County Emergency Management Office, Moore said.
“Because if we do have tornados or other emergency events when rescue workers go out to look for people they could be in a storm shelter that’s covered by debris,” Bailey said. “That’s the first place first responders are going to look for people. But, if they don’t know they’re there, they don’t know to look. By registering, that gives us a list of where those shelters are so we know where to look.”
Commissioners during their Monday meeting also approved Mountain Alloys Corporation’s request for a tax abatement.
Commissioners approved a 40 percent abatement over the next four years beginning on Jan. 1.
The Oregon-based company made the decision to move their headquarters to “more business friendly Texas,” Johnson County Economic Development Director Diana Miller said.
The company produces specialized parts for aerospace and gas and oil exploration companies among other products, Miller said.
The company, which has multiple facilities, plans to renovate and enlarge their facility near Burleson to the tune of about $5.1 million and to create 15 to 40 new jobs.