Arlington Sweeps Up After Tornado Outbreak

Arlington, TX tornadoesSeventeen confirmed tornadoes raked a fragmented path through the Dallas-Fort Worth area on April 3, leaving behind $500 million in damage.

It all began with a tornado watch for 33 counties. Around 2 pm the first tornado was spotted south of downtown Dallas. Just four minutes later, two more tornadoes were spotted—one near Fort Worth, the other south of Dallas heading toward the city. Seven minutes after that, another tornado was seen in Lancaster, south of Dallas, tossing roofs in the air. Three minutes later, video was captured of a tornado tossing tractor trailers like toys.

Instead of going home to their families, many area school children took shelter as tornadoes randomly popped up over the metroplex and surrounding suburbs. In the midst of the tornadoes, baseball and golf ball-sized hail pelted the area as the severe storms swept through, grounding all planes at DFW and Love Field.

In all, more than 800 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by the tornado outbreak, which spawned EF0, EF1, EF2, and EF3 tornadoes.

Although there were numerous injuries, remarkably no one was killed in the densely populated areas. One of the hardest hit areas was Arlington, home to Six Flags Over Texas, the Dallas Cowboy Stadium, and the Ballpark in Arlington where the Texas Rangers play.

The tornado that hit Arlington tore a path that was 4.6 miles long and 150 yards wide damaging more than 500 properties.

“I was in Arlington at the time,” says Shea Sumner, City of Arlington Public Works Operations Supervisor. “I was merely within a ½ mile from the closest tornado. The aftermath was pretty devastating. I can remember looking high into the sky and for as far as I could see, there was a huge amount of debris and particles floating around in the air. Debris ended up in many neighborhoods that were undamaged from the event.”

“After the tornadoes went through, it appeared that the damage was confined to one small area of Mayfield Road and Little Road,” says Sumner. “But, as the reports of tornado damage came in from southwest Arlington, it was apparent that we had a huge issue on our hands and this wasn’t going to be a quick, simple clean-up.”

The City of Arlington cleared more than 35,000 cubic yards of tree limbs and housing debris from a widespread area across southwest Arlington. “That’s enough debris to fill 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools,” says Sumner. “This was completed in the first ten days after the storm.”

After the large equipment and trucks came in to pick up and haul away the large debris, the City of Arlington brought out their Elgin Eagle from Kinloch Equipment & Supply. Using Saver Sweep Side Brooms, the Eagle swept the remaining debris. “Our one and only sweeper was used to do a final clean up of the streets so that we could stamp the area as completed,” says Sumner.

“We have used our in-house sweeper for several natural disasters,” adds Sumner. “We have many flood-plain neighborhoods that back up to large creeks that have suffered severe flooding over the years. The flooding conditions cause a need for cleanup of a large amount of leaves, silt, gravel, trash, and other debris.”

For other services, the city has an annual sweeping contract for residential, airport, major intersections, and entertainment district sweeping. “These different tasks consist of the usage of different styles of sweeping,” says Sumner. “Regenerative air sweepers are required at the Arlington Airport. Broom sweepers are used for the majority of the sweeping in Arlington.”

They have an open bid process every two to three years, and contractors need to be pre-approved prior to bidding. All available contracts can be viewed at Currently, they use G4S Integrated Services to maintain their equipment.

“It is very important for contractors to realize that many eyes are watching,” says Sumner. “Citizens of a municipality are eager to report a job well done and give praise for keeping their community clean. On the other hand, they are extremely eager to point out their dislikes and opinions on how they believe the job should be accomplished. Driver safety, operating speed, dust control, quality of work, vehicles that idle for long periods of time, and scheduling are all very common issues that are reported to the City of Arlington.”

Arlington received praise from numerous residents in the aftermath—many of them posting what an amazing city it is. Using a sweeper as one of their tools, Arlington workers and contractors work hard to keep the city clean even after tornadoes rip it up.

For more information on the City of Arlington’s Public Works Department and tornado recovery efforts, visit their site at

Story by Jennifer Taylor


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