Storms generated by the same system which caused death and havoc in Oklahoma Monday barrelled into Upshur County and East Texas late Tuesday afternoon and early evening.
While there were widespread power outages affecting up to 6,500 Upshur Rural Electric customers across the cooperative’s 10-county service area, and some property damage, there were no fatalities or major injuries reported.
SWEPCO reported that several hundred of their customers throughout East Texas, including Upshur County, lost power for a time.
In Gilmer, Upshur-Rural’s auditorium at the cooperative’s headquarters on Hwy. 154 West, a popular meeting place for major events since the days Elvis helped get his start there in the early 1950s, sustained major roof and ceiling damage.
The Union Grove FFA, which has held its annual end-of-school-year banquet at Upshur Rural for many years, was just setting up for their Tuesday night program when the storm hit. They retrenched to the Union Grove campus and held the event there.
Gilmer High School was gearing up for its Academic and Scholarship Program at the school campus. That event was postponed until next week.
Those planning upcoming events at the auditorium were informed Wednesday that they needed to seek other venues.
There were no tornadoes reported in the Gilmer area, but damage was attributed to straight-line winds, dropping trees and limbs on power lines.
“Rights of way are 30 feet, but that doesn’t help much if a 100-foot tree falls across it,” one Upshur Rural employee, who had been at work since 10 p.m. Tuesday night, said at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
At that time, about 600 of the 6,500 co-op’s customers were still without power.
Weather observers around Upshur County reported received from 1.14 to 1.75 inches at their weather stations as the clouds swept through the area.
Co-op Administrative Assistant Linda Williams said that they have no idea when they will be able to get the roof and auditorium ceiling repaired and get the facility back in service.
“All the adjusters in Texas are in Oklahoma,” Mrs. Williams said Thursday.