The Houston City Council heard praise Wednesday for the efforts of its workers following a storm packing high winds caused extensive damage at mid-day Monday.
Power was disrupted and buildings damaged as Houston was hit with its second catastrophe since a massive hail storm March 27, the Houston City Council heard.
A preliminary damage estimate of residences and businesses totaled $1.2 million, and was passed along to the State Emergency Management Agency in Jefferson City for a possible disaster declaration. Portions of the county — especially southern Texas County — were hit hard. One of the biggest trouble spots was in the southwest portion.
City Administrator Scott Avery and Mayor Willie Walker praised the efforts of the city’s departments after the storm hit at about 3 p.m.
About 40-45 percent of the city was without electricity, and the electrical department quickly mobilized to start tackling the problem, said Avery. All of the power was restored by about 1:30 a.m.
Some sewer lift stations were without power and workers in that department pumped material to prevent any backups in the system, he reported. The public grounds department worked to remove glass from windows in the downtown business district.
“It was a great team effort,” he said.
In other matters, members:
•Heard from councilman Kevin Stilley about the implementation of a May 1 discount on utility bills. He said he believed the intent was to give businesses and residents a break on each bill — not a total cap for $100 for residents and $200 for business owners. He noted some owned multiple businesses. When implemented, the outlay totaled about $148,900.
•Approved a $36,546 Harry Cooper Supply Co. bid for electrical transformers for its inventory.
•Okayed a $72,828 bid from Flynn Drilling Co., which has offices at Rolla and Troy, for a submersible pump for the water well on Cleveland Drive. The purchase was included in the 2020 budget and below the expected cost.
•Voted to divert a Houston Community Foundation grant to the Texas County Food Pantry to assist those experiencing economic hardship due to the coronavirus. The money earlier had been earmarked for engineering fees for a bridge on the Brushy Creek leg of the Village Trail.
•Continued discussions on the update of the city ordinance dealing with appointments of some city employees and leaders. The council appeared to be leaning toward appointment of the city treasurer, attorney, police chief and fire chief by the mayor. Department heads would report to the city administrator and any employment appeals would ultimately be heard by the full council.
•Learned that a firm has completed its study of the city’s 1,285 utility poles. The review was completed to assess the condition of the system, and allow for budgetary planning for those needing replacement. The study found 18 poles needing immediate replacement.
•Heard that a video examination by a company of some sewer lines had already uncovered problems, including on Walnut Street and Grand Avenue near the county justice center. The study is underway to find trouble spots and reduce intrusion of water that ends up at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
•Learned that newly leased carts at the Houston Municipal Golf Course had arrived. They are dark blue with black roofs.
•Will study an ordinance of a similarly sized Missouri municipality concerning adjustment for customers’ water leaks as it looks to adopt a policy.