North Texas’ record-breaking snow collapsed the roof on Wayne Boze Funeral Home in Red Oak – with employee Gayle Underwood inside.
Underwood, who lives in an apartment on the premises, was unhurt.
“It was 4 a.m. and all the nails in the seams of the sheet rock started popping out. Then the cabinets started popping off the walls,” he said. “The entire roof kind of imploded. I was only able to get out of the building through one door in the back. The walls on the front and back of the building were ‘pooching’ out. The fire department came and were able to use a ladder truck to get above and look down on the building. They said the whole roof collapsed.
“It looks like the entire building is a loss to me. I'm just glad to get out unharmed,” Underwood said.
The winter event began early Thursday morning and continued into the night, impacting traffic and closing schools and businesses across the area.
The National Weather Service reported the all-time 24-hour snowfall record for Dallas-Fort Worth was broken Friday morning, with 12.5 inches. The previous record was 12.1 inches set in 1962.
In Ellis County, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and city law enforcement worked side by side to keep motorists moving.
“There were so many people that were sliding off the road or off the interstate,” sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dennis Brearley said. “They’d bump into each and both would go off the road. There was a lot of activity.”
The sheriff’s office had extra personnel out during the day and through the night, he said in an interview Friday morning. The department utilized chains on its patrol units and also put into service any four-wheel drive vehicle in its fleet. Sheriff Johnny Brown put his personal four-wheel drive vehicle to use also, Brearley said, saying, “There was such a need for four-wheel drive vehicles to help pull people out (from where they had slid or were stuck).”
There were so many vehicle-type calls, the wrecker services couldn’t keep up with the demand, he said, noting “everything from 18-wheelers to cars were getting into trouble. (Law enforcement) just did what they do and did what they could to get there.”
And it wasn’t just law enforcement lending a hand. Brearley said that several times he saw where civilians with four-wheel drive vehicles were out trying to help people – and in one case even helped get a deputy’s patrol car unstuck.
“It was a mess, but a lot of people were out trying to help each other,” he said. “I even heard over the radio where one guy offered to bring a tractor over to help pull people out.”
The total number of calls for service wasn’t immediately available for the sheriff’s office by press time.
County offices closed
Ellis County offices were closed Friday.
“Based upon the recommendation of the sheriff and due to the continued unsafe weather conditions, Ellis County offices will be closed all day on Friday, Feb. 12,” a county spokesman said. “We will remain closed on Monday in observance of President’s Day.”
County employees who received paper checks could pick up their checks at the treasurer’s office between noon and 2 p.m. Friday.
“However, we encourage you not to get out on the roads unless absolutely necessary,” the spokesman said.
Road crews are working to clear county roads of tree limbs that have fallen into the roadway because of the recent winter weather.
“There is not a lot we can do (to clear the roads of snow) because we don't have a snow plow. One of the biggest problems is with tree limbs blocking the roadway. We had crews working at 1 a.m. on Bobs Run Road. The limb was so large that we had to push it off the road with a front end loader,” Commissioner Dennis Robinson said.
“We are encouraging people to stay safe and only leave their home if they have to.”
Foreman Sammy Pleiner said crews are using chainsaws to clear the road. While no roads closed they are passable so long as motorists go slow, use caution and are careful.
Road conditions facing drivers in Pct. 3 are wet and sloppy because of the snow and slush on the road surface.
“There are no road closures but tree limbs are a problem. Limbs range from 2 to 3 inches in diameter to 6 to 8 inches. Crews are currently working to clear the roads at this time,” Pct. 3 foreman Lonnie Reavis said.
Drivers are encouraged to remain safe while traveling on the roads today and into the weekend. Like in other precincts, crews are working to clear the roads of tree limbs.
“We got a small crew of four of five that were able to make it in. Currently we are out and about in the snow trying to get this done. I don’t know of any road closures at this time. There were some power outrages in Ovilla,” Pct. 4 Commissioner Ron Brown said.
“I suggest that people stay at home or if they have to go out to be careful and drive slow.”
Waxahachie, Ennis, Red Oak and Midlothian ISDs were closed Friday, according to notifications sent to the Daily Light. The districts each had released students early Thursday.
For up-to-the-minute closings during severe weather, visit the Daily Light Web site at www.waxahachiedailylight.com for breaking news updates and alerts throughout the day.
The city of Waxahachie offices were slated to open at 10 a.m. Friday. As of press time, the main streets in Waxahachie were passable but slippery in some areas.
“The city does not have a snow plow and we are still sanding on the streets that would benefit the most from that,” director of public works Jeff Chambers said in an interview Friday morning. “Most of our calls were tree limbs ranging in size from small to large. Crews were working all evening to keep roads clear.
“The side streets are still full of snow. So, if you don’t have to go out then don’t,” he said.
City Manager Paul Stevens said he had spoken with Police Chief Chuck Edge, who reported that during the night there were not a lot of accidents and that most people were staying home and off of the road. The few calls that came in were ones where people were stuck on the side of the road.
“No roads are closed as far as I know. Some roads that no one drives on are a little bit more difficult to navigate. Hopefully, everyone will use good judgment if they do go out,” Stevens said.
“I talked with Paul Hernandez with Oncor and he said there have been spotty power outrages – no one big area has been out – which means some service lines were out,” he said.
IESI cancelled residential trash pickup Friday, with service to resume the next regularly scheduled pickup. IESI’s intentions were to pick up commercial customers’ trash on Saturday.
In Ovilla, the fire department reported 11 calls of arcing power lines that were downed in the weather. Glenn Heights Fire Department responded to five downed power line calls.
In Ennis, police worked 10 accidents and provided 32 motorist assists. One road closure in the 400 block of N. Sherman was reported due to a downed tree. Partial road blockages due to low-hanging tree limbs were reported in 23 locations. No widespread power outages were reported.
In Ennis, the 24-hour snowfall accumulations was from 8 to 10 inches at difference locations.
Waxahachie Community Theatre’s Friday dinner theater performance of “Steel Magnolias” is cancelled. The theater will hold its 6:30 p.m. Saturday dinner theater performance, a 1:30 p.m. Sunday dinner theater performance and also a 6:30 p.m. Sunday dinner theater performance (which replaces the cancelled Friday show). Call director PJ Searsy at 972-723-6976 for more information.
The record-setting winter storm left the North Texas area with more than a foot of snow and tens of thousands of people without electricity in freezing conditions.
Oncor reported 175,000 homes and businesses were without power before dawn Friday in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, about 2,000 of those in the Waxahachie and Ennis areas.
American Airlines spokesman Steve Schlachter said the carrier, with its main hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, canceled about 240 flights Friday.
School districts in Dallas and Fort Worth were closed Friday.
The National Weather Service says the snow tapered off Friday, after totals ranging from 6-14 inches in North Texas.
Daily Light staff members Andrew Branca, Paul Gauntt, JoAnn Livingston, Jim Perry and Neal White contributed to this report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.