Morning Tornado Briefing: More Power, More Roads

It was a busy news day yesterday (when aren’t they this week?), but we’ve condensed it down to what you need to know today. 

City Provides Update
Click to enlarge.

The city of Dallas provided an update Wednesday night that should assuage people tired of snarled traffic and sitting without power.

In last night’s update, the city said it has deployed Convoy Strike Teams that are made of up crews from Oncor, Atmos, Dallas police, Dallas Fire and Rescue, public works, transportation, code enforcement, sanitation, parks, and 3-1-1, in a bid to create a more coordinated effort to remove debris.

“These crews are being deployed across impacted areas to focus on clearing thoroughfares and residential areas,” the city update said, adding that Fort Worth and Arlington have offered crews to assist as well.

The city has created grids that align with areas that were more heavily hit based on their damage assessments. An updated map is expected today, but yesterday’s map should give an idea of the direction the city is headed.

The city and Oncor shut down U.S. 75 northbound yesterday at 10 p.m. between Royal Lane and Forest Lane, for about half an hour to remove debris and allow Oncor to assess the area.

Brush and bulk collections will be suspended throughout the city so the city can deploy its resources to storm clean-up. Bulk trash set out this week will be picked up, but it will be delayed.

Oncor says there were about 9,000 customers left without power in the area Wednesday night, but that it was expected that every structure that is “capable of accepting power” should have the lights on after tonight.

To keep up with street openings and other announcements through the workday, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Local Students Step in to Help Affected Schools

Girl Scout Troop 8307, which meets at Withers Elementary, sorted more than 150 books and delivered them to Walnut Hill Elementary’s new campus at Tom Field Elementary.

Organizer Laura Capps said the troop will continue to collect books to stock the library now that they’ve delivered their first load.

Episcopal School of Dallas and St. Marks students worked Wednesday to help their neighbors in the Preston/Royal and Preston/Forest area. Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa also mentioned in his Wednesday afternoon press conference that students from both schools had been on hand to help at Loos Field House as well, as had students from Jesuit.

Greenhill students went to Loos Field House to help prepare it for the students from Pershing, Cigarroa, and Burnet elementary schools on Tuesday.

Good Shepherd Episcopal School also made breakfast for their neighbors affected by the tornado.

And several schools have opened up their athletic fields and facilities for schools that are unable to use theirs. Greenhill is now hosting St. Marks’ homecoming Friday (despite being the opponent), and Hockaday has allowed the ESD field hockey team to use their field space.

St. Marks Making Progress, But Will Remain Closed This Week

St. Marks Eugene McDermott Headmaster David Dini said he is proud of his students, who have used their time away from class while they wait to return to assist families and nearby schools affected by the tornado.

In a statement sent out Wednesday night, Dini said that they’ve made substantial progress on their campus, and he’s also grateful to neighboring schools who stepped in to help with facilities for the athletic program.

“Our long-time colleagues and friends at Hockaday have opened their campus to our boys, our faculty, and our athletic programs, while Greenhill has graciously stepped in to host this weekend’s Homecoming football game,” he said. “We are incredibly fortunate. These are just two examples of the many acts of generosity from our peer schools and other community organizations who have come to our aid.”

Dini said that school will remain closed for the rest of the week, but that they are working to prepare the campus for the return of students.

“At this point, we are hoping to resume classes early next week and will provide an update on our plans this Friday,” he added.

Nonprofit To Host Respite Happy Hour for Teachers

The Educator Collective, a nonprofit that works closely with teachers in the Thomas Jefferson feeder pattern, and Dallas Kids First will host an event for teachers and staff who have been displaced from their campus as a result of the tornado. The event is designed to provide a space for these teams to connect with one another and unwind after a stressful week, organizers said.

The happy hour will be today from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at SPACES Dallas North, located at 1919 McKinney Ave., Suite 100. Donors are providing complimentary drinks and appetizers, and a mindfulness expert from UTD’s Center for Vital Longevity will be on hand to share stress management and wellness tips for staff and students alike.

Teachers can register here to attend.

Several Opportunities to Be Fed
(Courtesy Sara Stoltz)

Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church has been manning golf carts stocked with water, coffee, and snacks to keep the neighborhood around the church fueled for the grueling work of digging out.

“Along the way, we ran into many of our church family who were out helping their neighbors chop up wood, haul moving boxes, clear debris, etc.,” said church spokesperson Sara Stoltz. “Church members Dr. Sue Coleman, Katelyn Mueller, Nina Tollett, Allie Lucas and Alison Mesec wanted to help, so they grabbed one of our PHPC golf carts and drove around the neighborhood giving out supplies and helping where needed.”

The church is hosting a community lunch Friday from noon to 4 p.m., and Mi Cocina is providing the food.

“We are inviting everyone in the Preston Hollow neighborhood, and hope it will be a time to find some relief and community among the chaos,” Stoltz said.

Central Market/H-E-B’s Mobile Kitchen II arrived yesterday at Central Market’s Preston Royal location with a police escort.

The Mobile Kitchen will serve meals to first responders, construction workers and neighbors affected by the tornado starting today through Saturday, Oct. 26 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The company says the truck is prepared to serve up to 800 meals for each breakfast, lunch, and dinner through Saturday. All meals are free to these individuals.

In addition, Central Market will provide complimentary cleaning supply kits to the first 500 homeowners starting Thursday morning, and will also have produce, snacks, and waters available on-site through Tuesday.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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