By Joyce May
The Cove Herald
COPPERAS COVE — The National Weather Service on Monday classified as relatively weak a tornado that destroyed five mobile homes and damaged 20 others Sunday in southwestern Copperas Cove.
Joe Harris with the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth said a storm survey had not been conducted so intensity data was not available, but the storm was being considered an F0, which tops out at 72 miles per hour and is sometimes referred to as a “gale tornado.”
“It could have been a lot worse. We are thankful it wasn’t,” Copperas Cove Emergency Management Coordinator Phyllis Johnson said.
The city’s Office of Emergency Management, in conjunction with the state’s regional liaison officer from Lampasas County, was busy Monday performing preliminary damage assessments following Sunday’s storms.
Copperas Cove Fire Chief Dennis Haas was the first to report the funnel cloud, which touched town at 6:26 p.m. near Sleepy Hollow and Carroll Drive.
Johnson said that according to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards, five mobile homes were considered destroyed and the rest have damage ratings ranging from minor to major.
She was uncertain late Monday afternoon how many of the homes were covered by insurance because she had only spoken to five residents at that point.
Carol Nunez, with the American Red Cross, had assisted eight families displaced by the tornado and one by flooding and was working to place another family late Monday afternoon. Nunez has been kept busy by the storm systems that have ravaged Central Texas since late March.
Johnson said the neighborhood struck by the tornado really pulled together after the storm.
“They went out into the street checking on one another, which is keeping with community emergency response training,” Johnson said.
There were no fatalities and only one person sustained minor injuries and was treated on the scene, which Johnson said was remarkable given the amount of debris that was flying about.
Several homes in Copperas Cove were also flooded, many for the second, third or fourth time this year. Some residents reported spending hours battling floodwaters inside and outside of their homes.
City Engineer David Whitehead said he is working hard to find solutions to the drainage issues and to speak with concerned residents. He said he has already responded to numerous e-mails and phone calls and will be addressing those concerns as quickly as possible.
A disaster summary outline from the Office of Emergency Management is expected to be turned in to City Hall around noon today.
Residents affected by Sunday’s flood or tornado are asked to stop by the Central Fire Station at 415 S. Main St. to fill out a short form regarding damage they may have suffered so a member of the damage assessment team can contact them.
“These are primarily for people who have had flood damage, but we will welcome them also if they have had tornado damage and nobody has talked to them,” Johnson said.
She can be reached at (254) 547-2514, ext. 310.
Copperas Cove did not qualify for state or federal disaster aid following the first round of storm damage in March, but Johnson said the city can reapply and incorporate the damage from all of the storm systems.
“They can be cumulative, and we can apply again using all of the data,” she said. “If a house flooded in March whether it flooded again in April, May or June, it can still count toward the whole picture.”
Johnson also encourages residents with weather information to report it as storm systems develop.
“We are dependent on skywatchers to be out there documenting and call it in as it is happening,” she said. “The Doppler radio can see rotations, but it cannot tell us that a tornado has touched down. The more volunteers we have that are trained, the better it is going to be for our community.”
Contact Joyce May at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-0428