Tornadoes touched down in San Antonio, damaging dozens of homes Sunday night as a severe storm system hit the city throughout Monday morning. Mayor Ivy Taylor declared a state of disaster Monday afternoon after seeing the damage throughout the city.
“I spent several hours today surveying the damage in different neighborhoods near the Quarry and was amazed to see roofs ripped off homes only to be found mangled in branches several doors down and 50-year old trees uprooted and toppled on tops of cars,” Taylor stated in a news release. “Based on what I saw, I’ve issued a declaration of disaster as a first step in potentially securing state and federal resources.”
One tornado spawned at Linda Drive, a neighborhood street near Highway 281 and the Alamo Quarry Market, according to the National Weather Service. NWS meteorologist Aaron Treadway told the Rivard Report that it was an EF-1 tornado with 105 mph winds and was roughly 4.5 miles in path length.
Another tornado, an EF-0 twister with 70 mph winds and 1.6-mile path length, occurred just East of IH-35, between Windcrest and Converse. Later, the NWS confirmed that a third tornado, an EF-1 twister with 110 mph winds and a 1.4-mile path length, hit near Wetmore and Thousand Oaks, and a fourth one, an EF-0 with 85 mph winds and a 0.70-mile length, hit east of Schoenthal Road.
Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who lives a few blocks away from Linda Drive, was at the scene Monday morning.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
The tornadoes and other storms throughout the North and Northeast sides of San Antonio damaged more than 100 homes, according to San Antonio Fire Department officials. Five residents sustained minor injuries.
Albert Thomas, 87, who lives on Linda Drive with his son, John, said that around 10 p.m. Sunday night he lost power in his house. Then, after he heard what sounded like a “big explosion,” part of his roof was torn off and his belongings began “flying around” the house.
“We just walked around the house, [and] stayed out of the way,” he said. In the midst of the chaos, something hit and cut his arm. An EMS crew eventually took him to the hospital and he returned home.
In the aftermath of the storm, some houses on Linda Drive sit roofless, windowless, and/or partially crushed by fallen trees, while some houses were left unscathed.
On Monday morning, trees that were knocked over by the storm still lay scattered in the street and along the side of Linda Drive.
SAFD, SAPD, Bexar County Public Works, the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements office, the City’s Office of Emergency Management, and others are combining forces with the neighborhood to clean up debris and board up houses, Treviño said.
Residents have not been restricted from their homes, he said, but the American Red Cross has set up a shelter with resources at the nearby Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 600 Oblate Dr., which can hold up to 100 people.
Anyone else looking to help, Treviño said, can contact the Office of Emergency Management at 210-206-8580.
As of time of publication Monday afternoon, there are still 565 power outages affecting 14,034 CPS Energy customers, according to the CPS Energy outage tracker. At the height of the storm last night, CPS Energy reported more than 40,000 homes without power.
As some power lines were damaged in the storm, Treviño said it could be a while before some residents’ electricity is turned back on.
“We want the community to stay calm [and] be safe,” said Taylor, who visited with residents at the Linda Drive site Monday morning. “Make sure you avoid any precarious limbs or wires that could be live wires to check on neighbors especially if you know they’re an elderly person and they need assistance, and call 311 to report anything that seems like it hasn’t been addressed yet.”
SAPD will be increasing neighborhood patrols throughout the affected areas overnight to ensure the residents and their property are safe and secure.
The last time a tornado hit Bexar County was in May 2015, Treadway said. The twister touched down in the Balcones Heights region, just west of downtown, and was ranked as an EF-1 tornado, meaning the wind speeds were between 86 and 110 mph.
The brunt of Monday’s storm has already passed, Treadway said. San Antonians can expect dryer, clearer weather with some sunshine this afternoon and throughout the rest of the week.
The next rainfall, Treadway said, isn’t anticipated until next Sunday.