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Severe storm tears through Bertram, damaging historic building and boutique

Storm damages Bertram buildings

Bertram city workers on Tuesday, March 23, cleared debris and repaired a traffic light after a storm the previous night. The storm damaged several buildings, including Bertram Blend & Boutique, a coffee shop and clothing store at 110 Texas 29 in Bertram. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley

A severe thunderstorm pummeled Bertram late Monday night, damaging several buildings, including the more than 100-year-old A.B. McGill & Company building and the nearby Bertram Blend & Boutique. The National Weather Service surveyed the damage on Tuesday, March 23, and preliminarily determined it was from straight-line winds and not a tornado.

On Tuesday, as officials surveyed the damage, businesses and individuals donated food and supplies to feed workers on cleanup duty. 

The storm struck at about 10 p.m. Monday, March 22, scattering debris and knocking down power lines and traffic lights. 

Bertram resident Jim Bowden observed the damage Tuesday and noted the destruction of Bertram Blend & Boutique, a combination coffee shop and clothing store at 110 Texas 29.

“I would try to go support (Bertram Blend) when I could,” he said. “I’d get a coffee or something, but now, who knows?”

The storm ripped away portions of the walls and parts of the roof of both the vacant A.B. McGill building and the boutique. 

The damage can be seen from the porch of Becky Whitehead’s shop, Becky’s Hair Salon at 138 E. Vaughan St. 

“They had it set up real cute in (Bertram Blend),” Whitehead said. “It’s so sad.”

Whitehead said her salon was not damaged by the storm, but she will have her roof inspected to make sure it’s safe. She added that she was lucky, considering how close her storefront is to the damaged area.

Bertram police blocked off part of the highway on Tuesday so crews could remove debris and repair the traffic light at the intersection of Texas 29 and North Grange Street. Traffic along the highway was redirected down West Vaughan Street and other roads during the cleanup. Officials are also evaluating the buildings along Texas 29 to ensure they are still stable.

Large hail falls in Burnet County on March 23, 2021
Large hail fell across northern Burnet County during a severe thunderstorm Monday night. A sample from a Burnet ranch was the size of a golfball. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

The National Weather Service tracked a line of severe storms that cut across Central Texas and the Highland Lakes on Monday night into Tuesday morning. The thunderstorms brought high winds, rain, and lightning as well as hail. The hail was up to 2 inches in diameter with some reports of baseball-size pieces falling in the Burnet area from 9-10 p.m. Monday. 

Chris Murray, a library tech at the Bertram Library, said some of the back windows of the building, which face the boutique, had been shattered during the storm. 

“Our Friends (of the Library) president went inside this morning and took a video to report the damage,” Murray said. “There’s a lot of debris, so today, we’re just trying to clean up. We’ll be OK, I’m sure.”

Associate Editor Daniel Clifton contributed to this story.

brigid@thepicayune.com