Storm damages church, homes, power lines; 95 mph winds recorded

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Straight-line winds, part of a storm system that rumbled through Clay County early Thursday night, are to blame for severe damage to several structures in the areas of Vashti and Buffalo Springs.

A Nobile Foundation weather station located on FM 1288, north of Vashti, recorded wind speeds of up to 95 miles per hour. County Judge Kenneth Liggett said the area received 1.5 to 2 inches of rain during the storm, and another half-inch when a lightning storm passed through early Friday morning.

Vashti Baptist Church was heavily damaged. Winds peeled almost all of the metal roof from the north side of the building, and approximately half of the roof from the south side, leaving the interior vulnerable. Rains saturated ceiling tiles and sheetrock, causing parts of the sanctuary ceiling to collapse. On Friday, church members and volunteers stripped waterlogged carpets from the building and moved its antique pews into storage.

Kent Neville, Clay County Emergency Management Coordinator, said that an estimated eight homes suffered severe roof damage, while eight barns were either damaged or were partially collapsed. Large trees were split and uprooted.

No injuries were reported.

The storm blew down power lines in the area, leaving residents without power through the night. Power was restored to customers in the Vashti area at about 4 p.m. Friday.

At the peak of the outage, an estimated 900 residents in the Wichita Falls, Henrietta and Bellevue areas were without power, said Mike Nieto, spokesman for Oncor Electric provider.

Nieto said 15 poles and 14 wooden H-frame structures supporting the 138-kilovolt transmission line that runs north of Vashti were down. JAC Electric Coop lost 20 to 30 electric poles in the storm.

Downed power lines blocked traffic on FM 1288 and FM 2321, between Vashti and Bellevue. County road crews from Precinct 3 and Precinct 4 spent Friday clearing roads of tree limbs, brush and debris.

Electric company crews converged on the area after the storm subsided and worked through the night, breaking only when an electrical storm passed through the area. Work continued on the transmission line through Monday.

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Pioneer Sentinel

The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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