GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – As more severe weather rains down on East Texas, locals and officials alike are figuring out how to learn from past storms.

Emergency preparedness may not be at the top of everyone’s minds in times of clear weather, but danger can lurk regardless of if you are ready for it, just like it did in June.

Texas State Rep. Jay Dean, whose district includes Gregg, Harrison and Morris counties, spoke with KETK’s Neal Barton to bring the subject in focus.


In June, severe storms hit East Texas and caused major damage to electric infrastructure, resulting in widespread outages amid high summertime temperatures. At one time, 170,000 East Texans were in the dark as a result of damaging winds.

Linemen worked day and night to get the lights back on, with one 35-year-old lineman dying of heat exhaustion after working in extreme temperatures. Thirteen local counties were included in a disaster declaration issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

“I’m calling it the windmageddon,” Dean recalled. “I’m sitting out on my back porch Thursday night at about 10:30 because I hear the lightning, and literal waves of wind started at Interstate 30 all the way to Interstate 20, came in at 70-75 miles an hour. It was tough.”

The East Texas Food Bank held extra food distributions and cooling centers opened up throughout the Piney Woods to help out locals suffering extreme heat with no power.

Dean recalled issues that slowed the response to that bout of severe weather and talked about ways to be more prepared in the future.

“I think it’s just making sure that all of our emergency services are always on go,” Dean said. “In this case, it popped up so quick our emergency operations center didn’t get opened up, so some things like that. We have a fantastic emergency operations center in downtown Longview that was put in during the 2011 fires and it serves a great purpose. We just need to make sure that on a moments notice, we can react quickly.”

The Texas electrical grid has been under scrutiny since 2021’s winter storm. In the clip below, Dean discusses whether or not the grid did it’s job and held up during the June storm:


Preparations are easier in theory than they are in practice, because East Texas is uniquely positioned in a kind of radar “dead zone,” meaning the area is nestled in between the Fort Worth and Shreveport radars with neither quite able to give a comprehensive view of what’s happening in the area.

Below is a map of the Next Generation Weather Radar, a system that detects rain and wind, showing where a chunk of East Texas is left out.

Emergency preparedness is an issue that goes far past politics, it can be a matter of life or death. Finding a better way to detect storms in the area would be a huge stride to preparedness, and Dean believes lawmakers can make that change.

“We need the technology, the technology is out there,” Dean said. “Sometimes, to cut through the bureaucracy is a difficult, time consuming thing. If anyone can cut through that, I believe Nathaniel [Moran] can.”

Preparedness not even limited to emergency situations– it’s important to be prepared for the changing times. Part of that preparation includes access to broadband, which is a challenge for rural East Texas.

“The money’s in the bank,” Dean said. “We need to now, in coordination with our federal partners, speed that up. I talk to people everyday in rural Texas in my district that don’t have internet. A lot of people work from home, gets have to have access, we have to get that project done sooner than later…don’t tell me it’s because we don’t have the money, the money is there.”

To see the full conversation, including viewer-submitted questions, catch East Texas In Focus on FOX51 News at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.