Kingsville Mayor Sam Fugate signed a local disaster declaration, along with a letter to Texas Governor Gregg Abbott to declare a state of emergency for Kingsville and Kleberg County, in the aftermath of Thursday’s severe weather event.

According to the National Weather Service Corpus Christi, a strong downburst with 85 to 90 mph winds Thursday evening resulted in widespread damage from northwest Kingsville to just southeast of the city.

Along with property damage, the severe weather downed trees and power lines, causing outages for many Kingsville residents.

A press release from AEP Texas stated that an estimated 9,600 area residents lost electricity during the storm, with approximately 6,100 residents still without power as of Friday morning.

AEP Texas had initially projected to have power restored to at least 95 percent of area residents by noon Friday, but later sent out an update revising its projection to 8 p.m. Saturday.

The local disaster declaration activates the City of Kingsville’s Emergency Management Plan for up to seven days. Should Gov. Abbott declare a state of emergency for Kingsville and Kleberg County, it would allow FEMA to respond to public assistance requests that could offset costs associated with storm recovery.

Also on Friday, Kingsville Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Adrian Garcia, Kingsville Police Chief Ricardo Torres and Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid held a press conference at Kingsville City Hall, providing an update on city and county efforts in the aftermath of Thursday’s storm, as well as what the public should expect during the weekend.

Garcia said the city is “working very closely” with AEP and its county partners to maintain public safety “through today, this evening and, of course, tomorrow.”

With heat indices above 100 degrees, Garcia stressed the importance for the community to “keep an eye on” any elderly family or friends for signs of heat exhaustion.

“Don’t wait until they are too far gone or too dehydrated,” he said.

Torres addressed ensuring the safety of the citizens and businesses within the city, and said the KPD would have additional staffing throughout the weekend.

Torres also spoke about driver safety during the press conference, as power outages continue to affect street lights in some intersections.

“Treat it as a four-way intersection,” he said. “(Be) especially careful, so that we do not have any traffic accidents and we do not have anyone injured as a result of this particular situation.”

For elderly residents who need a place to stay until electricity is restored, the Kleberg County Human Services Center, located at 1109 E. Santa Gertrudis Ave., has set up a “chill zone” to provide relief from the hot weather.

“A lot of seniors here have families that are able to help them, but we have some that don’t,” Judge Madrid said in an interview following the press conference.

Madrid said the site would provide elderly residents food, entertainment, air conditioning and a cot to sleep on during the night.

 “And we’re making sure that there’s security and an EMS ambulance on site as well,” he said.

For more information or to request transportation or ambulance service to the “chill zone” site, call (361) 228-1892.

In addition, Torres said Texas A&M University-Kingsville student and KPD intern Kristen Gonzalez is collecting donated items that will be distributed to residents in need.

“We are asking for blankets, pillows, toiletries and canned goods to assist some of our victims in the community,” he said.

For residents who need to dispose of brush, there are three drop-off locations within the city limits: the Trash-Off location at the intersection of 6th Street and Avenue B, the Precinct 4 Commissioner’s Office at 622 N. 14th Street and the L.E. Ramey Golf Course at 2522 E. Escondido Rd.

Additional City of Kingsville updates are available through the Kingsville Visitors Center’s Facebook page, as well as at cityofkingsville.org.

AEP customers can monitor power outage updates in the news and information section of the aeptexas.com website, which includes a real-time outage map with the most current information available.

To report any downed power lines, call AEP Texas at (866) 223-8508.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.

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