City Gradually Recovering from Monster Storm

3500 lightning strikes, 478 calls to the Fire Department, 70 mile an hour straight line winds, 247 ripped up by the roots.

That, by the numbers, is the story of last night's monster storm which blew through San Antonio.

And Rudy Gaza of CPS Energy says the real number is the quarter million customers who lost electric power at least at one point during the storm, and the 70,000 plus who lost it for a long time.

"We follow every weatehr prediction and forecast in Texas, and none of them predicted what happened yesterday," Garza said.

He says his crews have been working non stop, and the plan is to have everybody's power back on by this evening.

He says when winds reach 70 miles an hour, there's not a lot that can be done to keep the lights on.

"That wind pushes those trees over, the trees make contact and basically burn the wire down," he said. "You may have a tree that is not anywhere near the power lines, but once it blows over, it makes contract, and basically your line burns out."

40 crews from the city's Transportation and Capital Improvements office have also been working non stop. Officials say they are stacking up tree limbs and items blown off of buildings, and will haul them away after the rights of way have been cleared.

TCI says 172 traffic signals were affected by the storm, the vast majority are now working again.

Fire Chief Charles Hood says crews are flying over badly damaged areas in helicopters to make sure there is no debris lodged in trees that could come crashing down.

"Yesterday from the start of the incident, the Fire Department responded to 478 calls during the storm period, until 11:30 last night."

Officials are investigating whether one man who was killed was struck by lightning. He was working on the roof of a home in the Timberwood Park neighborhood in far north San Antonio, ironically repairing a roof that had been damaged in a previous storm, when he was stricken.

And now that crews are working to get the city back to normal, City Manager Erik Walsh says there is another weather emergency approaching.

"We are preparing as the heat continues to go up to open up city libraries and senior centers as cooling centers," he said.

PHOTO: CITY OF SAN ANTONIO

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