Mower County storm damage is ‘slight’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Twentieth Avenue at 43rd Street in northwest Austin remains blocked early today with a downed power line.

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

Twentieth Avenue at 43rd Street in northwest Austin remains blocked early today with a downed power line.

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Buildings along U.S. Highway 218 North in the Andyville vicinity were damaged.

Otherwise, reports of overnight storm damage are slight in Mower County.

According to Sheriff Barry J. Simonson, no other reports of damages from overnight storms have been forthcoming from out-county communities.

The Andyville residential area, including the North Star garage and used car lot of Medgaarden’s Southwest Sales suffered damages, according to the sheriff.

A motor home was pushed by strong winds into a side of the new auto repair shop building, where the former North Star truck stop and restaurant businesses were located.

Austin city officials believe two storm cells materialized over the city early Tuesday evening. "There were things hanging out of the clouds, but nothing touched down in the city," said Police Chief Paul M. Philipp.

Philipp is concerned about the reliability of the city’s siren warning system. According to the police chief, the system is old and dates back to the days of the Civil Defense early warning system.

The siren for southwest Austin at Banfield Elementary School has to be manually recycled by communications dispatchers at the Austin – Mower County Law Enforcement Center when activated.

He said, both Bob Nelson, the city-county emergency preparedness director and the police chief will ask the Austin City Council to consider upgrading the city’s siren system, because of concerns for its reliability.

When the tornado warnings were issued Tuesday night, it caused students and the audience at an elementary music concert at Austin High School to scramble for cover; the Sterling Silver Club’s May Day Dinner and Dance crowd at the old Terp Ballroom grew anxious; and guests at a special program on Alaskan rainforests at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center were ordered to take cover in the basement of the interpretive center building.

The warnings and heavy downpour with hail came after a brilliant rainbow arc over the eastern skies above Austin near 7 p.m.

Today, the concerns have shifted from the skies above to the ground below, where creeks and rivers are rising.

"The waters are definitely coming up," said the police chief, "There are no alerts issued yet, but if the rains continue to fall as they are expected to we’re going to have some problems."

The police chief also reminded residents not to call the emergency 9-1-1 telephone number for weather information.

Once again, the LEC communications dispatches were inundated with telephone calls, inquiring about Tuesday night’s stormy weather.

The police chief said residents should take cover when the city’s siren warning system is activated and to call the emergency 9-1-1 number only when legitimate emergencies exist and emergency services are needed.

Accident equals charges

Jeffrey Anderson, 41, of Austin, faces multiple charges after a one-vehicle accident early today.

According to an Austin Police Department report, Anderson and a female companion, Katherine Peck, 43, of Austin, were discovered at the Ankeny’s convenience store at the intersection of 4th Street and 1st Avenue Southwest near 1:30 a.m.

Peck was bleeding from a laceration to the knee and Anderson was obviously inebriated and failed field sobriety tests.

The investigation revealed Anderson was driving Peck’s automobile when it crashed into a parked pickup truck along 1st Drive Northwest near the Austin YMCA.

The Peck vehicle was left at the scene and the pair apparently walked nearly 10 blocks to the convenience store, according to the police report.

Peck was taken to Austin Medical Center by a Gold Cross Ambulance Service crew.

Anderson was jailed on charges of first degree DWI, driving after cancellation, refusing blood-alcohol tests and leaving the scene of an accident.

He was uninjured.