© 2023 88.9 KETR
Public Radio for Northeast Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

PHOTOS: Greenville Cleans Up After Severe Thunderstorm

Communities across Northeast Texas are dealing with the aftermath of a series of severe storms that raked across the region Wednesday night. Greenville was hardest hit, as a storm bearing powerful straight-line winds struck the city at about 5:40 p.m. Both local officials and the National Weather Service referred to the storm as a tornado Wednesday evening, however, NWS surveyors said Thursday afternoon that the damage came from 85-MPH straight-line winds, rather than a tornado.

Hunt County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jeff Haines told KETR that a few minor injuries had been reported as a result of the storm, but that no major injuries had been reported. Haynes emphasized that law enforcement officers were still engaged in the first stages of disaster response, and that assessment of the situation remained ongoing.

Several downtown Greenville buildings suffered major damage, as did Highland Terrace Baptist Church, located in the south-central part of the city, near Hunt Regional Medical Center.

Hundreds of Greenville homes and businesses remained without electrical service Wednesday night. Motorists in Greenville negotiated intersections as four-way stops in the absence of functioning traffic lights and the long commercial strip along Wesley Street was almost entirely shut down. The Herald-Banner reported that the entire 75401 ZIP code lost electrical service.

Destroyed trees and downed power lines could be observed in and around Greenville’s downtown, particularly north and east of the courthouse square.

Crews and volunteers rushed to the 2200 block of Lee Street, where the roof and part of the façade of the Crawford Smith building was blown into the roadway.

Highland Terrace Baptist Church, located in the 3900 block of Joe Ramsey Boulevard, suffered major damage to its roof and other parts of the building. Pastor Chet Haney said that about 30-40 people were sheltering inside the church’s designated storm sheltering area, and remained unharmed during the damage.

"[The damage] is pretty extensive, but not to the church. Because the church is not a building. It's the people. Our church is fine but our building is hit pretty hard," Haney said.

"A big portion of each side of the front part of our santuary - it looks like the pressure maybe pulled [the roof] right off. Some of it landed right over here on the Sunday Schoool classroom that, maybe about 10-15 minutes later would have been full of children," Haney said. "We're just so thankful - our number one prayer was that no one would be hurt," he said. 

Elsewhere, the Herald-Banner reported that a resident in the 4600 block of Washington Street had his truck crushed when a fallen tree crushed both his carport and the vehicle underneath it. Greenville Independent School District announced that all classes and activities on Thursday have been canceled. Hunt County offices will open at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Other parts of Hunt County, including Merit and Celeste, also received damage from the same storm system. The National Weather Service reported during the event that baseball-sized hail had been reported from the storm, which developed into a severe system in eastern Collin County, then pelted the northern flank of Hunt County before dipping southeasterly through Greenville and Campbell and into Hopkins and Rains counties.

Most counties in Northeast Texas received heavy rainfall and hail. Most of Hopkins, Hunt, Lamar and Wood counties, including Commerce, Greenville, Mineola, Paris, and Sulphur Springs, remained under a flash flood warning into the early hours of Thursday morning as a result of heavy rainfall from a series of slow-moving thunderstorms that soaked the region.

this story was updated at 2:35 p.m. on June 20

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.