By AMANDA KIMBLE
DUBLIN (March 30, 2016) – Spring weather hasn’t been kind to Dublin. The city was pelted by a hail storm in late April 2015. It was hit again when an EF1 tornado hopped across the county in the early morning hours of March 8. Dublin City Hall sustained significant damage – during both incidents.
Dublin City Manager Nancy Wooldridge said the latest damage at City Hall means staffers will continue to operate out of a temporary office. It’s beginning to feel like permanent headquarters. Following hail damage last April, a subsequent infestation of black mold required City Hall to be vacated in August. At that time, Dublin ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney Schneider graciously handed over the keys to school district’s former administration building – where offices are still stationed.
Despite the passing of many months and the repair of homes and businesses across the city, Wooldridge said few repairs had been made to the government buildings.
“We hadn’t even started interior renovations at City Hall when the tornado hit March 8,” Wooldridge said. “We have no flooring, no ceilings and the walls are cut out.”
The slow progress was becoming a thorn in the city manager’s side. Less than 24 hours before the tornado ripped the roof off of Dublin Fire Department, damaging the less than four-month-old roof and new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units, Wooldridge had called Texas Municipal League (TML), the city’s insurance provider.
“I made a call to the head officer at TML Monday (March 7) afternoon,” Wooldridge said. “I was frustrated by the slow progress and not getting anything done.”
The tornado hit at about 6:30 a.m. the following day. By 11, a roofer, contractor and public adjuster were at work in City Hall – again. Wooldridge said by noon, water that stood an inch-and-a-half deep had been dried.
Despite the three strikes against the city, Dublin and its manager are anything but down and out. In fact, Wooldridge always finds the “silver lining,” of a looming storm cloud.
“Since the insurance had not yet come in and the interior renovations haven’t been completed, we don’t have to start over,” she said. “I am happy to say we hadn’t spent a lot of tax money just to lose it to the latest storm.”
And, in the true spirit that has come to epitomize life in Erath County, Wooldridge is singing the praises of locals who stepped up to help – DISD for the office space and Sheriff Tommy Bryant, for allowing Dublin 911 services to work out of the county’s dispatch office.
“We’ve have sort of become the visiting family members who won’t leave,” she quipped.
Wooldridge also praised Erath County Fire Rescue for allowing the city to use its mobile command station after the storm hit and Dublin Bottling Works for allowing fire trucks to be stored in the bottling plant’s warehouse until temporary repairs to the fire department roof were complete.
“Our local agencies – even our businesses – have really stepped up and helped out,” she said. “It has all been a learning experience – albeit one you hope you don’t have to go through more than once.”
Woodridge said her next course of action is to wait – on insurance claims and payments and local decision makers.
“City council is mulling over the next move,” she said. “And we’re just taking things one day at a time.”
Meanwhile, Wooldridge is cautiously optimistic about what springtime has to offer.
“We’ve had our three,” Wooldridge said. “Hail, mold and now a tornado. I would like to think we’ve had enough, but this is just the beginning of spring.”