Dispatches from Dallas, June 7 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week, in news from Dallas-Fort Worth, we have a short post due to the weather, which is one of the major items in this update. We lost power twice, once for a day and a half on Tuesday a week ago immediately following the storms in Dallas proper, and a second incident where Oncor had to turn our power off for seven hours and change to remove tree branches from the line on our street. The storms hit on election day, which is our other big topic this week. A number of voting centers were closed because they had no power Tuesday, but polls were open until 9pm at centers with power. Election results were available Wednesday morning, as expected, but they were one of the few things that turned up on time last week.

This week’s post was brought to you by the music of Cyndi Lauper, who is coming to Dallas and other cities on her farewell tour in November. I got my tickets on presale, but the regular onsale date is Friday.

Let’s start with the weather news. As you may know, there were tornadoes across the US and specifically north of Dallas and Fort Worth here in Texas on the Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Seven people were killed and many more were injured in north Texas. The Dallas Observer has photos of the devastation: demolished homes and commercial buildings, overturned large vehicles, blown out signs.

Local folks had about breathed a sigh of relief that no more was coming when thunderstorm and tornado warnings went off at about 6 am on Tuesday morning, which was election day for the primary runoffs. In our part of Dallas, the rain was severe and the winds were high. While we didn’t have the sustained wind effect of a tropical storm or hurricane, the effect was similar over the quarter to half-hour that the worst was happening. By the time it had blown its way out of the metro area, more than half a million people were without power, branches were down everywhere in the city, property damage was widespread and traffic lights were dead everywhere. While the winds had subsided, rain continued to fall, causing concerns about flooding. The severity of the storms received national coverage (Washington Post; USA Today). It continued to rain all week and through the weekend, with the sun peeking through, as Oncor struggled to bring power back and the city’s drainage system struggled to deal with the runoff from the rain on soaked ground. Several high water rescues were necessary as city workers checked out the damage.

As the DMN explains, and Houstonians know well, it’s hard to predict storm severity before the storms form. In this case the timing of the formation overnight hampered readiness. We were asleep right up until the tornado warning from our phones woke us up. And while we were aware we were still in tornado season, at bedtime Monday the storms had been predicted to show up Tuesday afternoon. Historically, May is the biggest month for tornados in the Metroplex, but tornadoes have happened as late as July.

Some things we found out the hard way: Food in the refrigerator spoils after only four hours without power but a fully stocked freezer can hold out for two days. Local nonprofits also lost food with the power outages but did their best to continue serving their communities. KERA notes that unsurprisingly Oncor will not reimburse us all for the spoiled food. Oncor had both local and out-of-state workers removing trees from power lines. As Houstonians know, this is a job for the professionals. In Arlington, two people were killed in separate incidents while trimming trees following the storm. Complete cleanup from the storms will take months.

Unsurprisingly, Dallas County joins several others as part of a federal disaster area following the storms. The city is starting to recover: local radio is back on the air; there are plans to replace trees in parts of South Dallas that lost a lot; the zoo and the Arboretum are figuring out what’s next; and an eaglet that fell out of its nest at White Rock Lake has gone home. Traffic lights are still coming back on line slowly for reasons explained by the DMN so we’re still chanting “treat it as a four-way stop UNH!” a lot when we run errands.

Currently the Metroplex is in line for its sixth wettest year since we’ve started keeping records. Meanwhile, in the Panhandle, storm chasers found a hailstone six inches in diameter.

With the weather sort of under control, let’s talk about the election:

  • As I mentioned, the polls were open until 9 PM on Election Day to compensate for the loss of the voting centers that had no power. I don’t have a link for this to hand; I got the news from a text sent by the Dallas Democratic Party.
  • If you want detailed coverage of the results, you can pick your source: the DMN; the Star-Telegram; or KERA.
  • For a brief analysis of the runoff results, especially on the Republican side, you can check out the Dallas Observer, the DMN, and the Texas Tribune, all of which cover the runoffs where Paxton-endorsed candidates primaried House members who voted for impeachment. In north Texas, team Paxton seems to have won the day, perhaps unsurprisingly given his power base.
  • On the Democratic side of the runoff, incumbent Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown trounced her old boss Lupe Valdez 69%-31%. I had no strong sense of where this race was going to go until I saw the results. I did receive several texts from Valdez supporters that did not appear to have campaign sanction that accused Brown of terminating prisoner programs willy nilly, like nothing happened in 2020 that might have stopped jail programs of all sorts. They were a little fishy even before I thought about the lack of a campaign endorsement or an opt-out. Whoever sent them did Valdez no favors. The Texas Tribune has more about the race.
  • This Bud Kennedy op-ed in the Star-Telegram tells an interesting story about the HD 97 Republican runoff. That’s Craig Goldman’s old seat, which he left to run for CD 12, Kay Granger’s seat. Apparently a PAC in the area ran attack ads against Goldman that backfired and also lifted John McQueeney over Cheryl Bean in HD 97. The theory is that Goldman and McQueeney were proxies for Abbott and the business Republicans and John O’Shea (Goldman’s primary opponent) and Bean were proxies for Ken Paxton and the MAGA crowd. The signs were apparently awful and bigoted, so be aware if you click through. Good thing Fort Worth voters saw through them.
  • Last, but not least, Heider Garcia has a problem with his poll workers: they’re not getting paid promptly. Apparently their checks were supposed to be issued three weeks after the last election but still have not arrived. The article doesn’t say whether the troubles have anything to do with the payroll delays from last year; either way Garcia needs to get those payments out to the hardworking folks at the polls.

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