Spring storms continue to wreak havoc in Cherokee County

by Cristin Parker

Numerous roadways across Cherokee County and several businesses on Main Street and U.S. Highway 84 in Rusk were damaged over the weekend after heavy rains and other violent storms pounded the east Texas area -- deluging the area with at much as 9 inches of rain in just over two hours, according to some reports.

Businesses along North Main Street in Rusk that flooded include Skeeter’s Convenience store, Gray’s Automotive, Sonic, Rusk Auto Parts-Parts Plus, the Cherokeean Herald newspaper office, SudsRUs and other establishments located on Main Street Center.

“During (the Saturday, May 18) storms our business was flooded by about three feet of water,” shop owner Jody Gray posted on his business’s social media page on Sunday, May 19. “We sustained a heavy amount of loss in equipment and furniture not to mention a horrible mess to clean up. We will be closed for a few days, but we will post when things are cleaned up. I would like to thank our customers and our town for the outpouring of love and support, you truly are amazing.

“Even with of our loss we are blessed! God you bless you all and thank you.”

On U.S. Highway 84 W., Harry’s Building Material and the former site of Struhall’s Racing motorcycle repair shop sustained heavy damage as flood waters rose to an estimated six feet up and into the structures on both properties.

“Our Rusk location was a total loss from Saturday night’s flood,” store operator Robbie Tosh reported on his personal Facebook page on Saturday. “Our main computer was six feet underwater -- that means all locations computers (were) down all day Monday!

“Our Rusk location will be closed until further notice. We ask for prayers and patience during this time. All Rusk customers please visit our Jacksonville and Troup stores for all your needs! Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time.”

Bullard resident Katie Struhall, wife of Jaime Struhall, owner of the former shop sought prayers as reports of the flooding reached her.

“My poor husband and brother-in-law -- their daddy’s motorcycle shop will be just about a complete loss,” she posted Saturday night. “Flood waters up to the door knob. This is just bad -- bikes, cars, memories, tools -- prayers to Rusk right now.”

All Star Barbecue, on U.S. Highway 69 S, also flooded during Saturday’s storms.

“(Saturday night) our restaurant, All-Star Bar-B-Q, flooded due to the extreme amount of rainfall in such a short time period here in Rusk,” restaurant representatives shared on the entity’s Facebook page. “Good news - we got it cleaned up (Sunday). Thank goodness for our little wet vac. Other good news - we were able to take care of it ourselves without calling in professionals. We have been open 26 years and have never flooded. Best news of all, we did not lose any Astros memorabilia, or food!

“(Restaurant owner) Russell (Turner) was sad about his antique display cases that were standing in water, but we are hoping they dry out nicely. We have two dehumidifiers and three drying fans going to try to get rid of the moisture.”

The eatery on Monday expected to open for business as usual on Tuesday.

Across the rest of the county, Cherokee COunty Precinct 1 Commissioner Kelly Traylor kept residents updated on what was happening during the course of the storms on social media.

“Folks, STAY HOME,” he posted around 11 p.m. Saturday. “There is substantial flooding in various areas of Cherokee County. Please do not go out on the roadways. A foot of water is enough to drag a vehicle.”

County first responders also assisted several motorists who found themselves in danger of being swept away as their vehicles were caught in flash floodwaters.

No fatalities were reported.