New 911 Audio Captures Chaos As Historic Hailstorm Hit Wylie in 2016

The city of Wylie released audio of drivers, dispatchers caught in the hailstorm

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Six years after a history-making hailstorm struck the city of Wylie, audio of some of the 911 calls made that day were released.

In the two-minute-long audio, dispatchers answer calls from frantic drivers who took a direct hit from the hail.   

“It was like nothing I’d ever experienced,” said Wylie dispatcher Sara Zerger.

Zerger and her co-workers at the city of Wylie fielded hundreds of calls the night of April 11, 2016.

“It was a lot,” Zerger said, “and at one point our ceiling started to collapse, so we were working as water was dripping on our computers.”

In the 911 recordings released Monday, you hear the moment hail began hitting the dispatch center, piercing the roof.

It was so loud you can barely hear the audio.

“You know you really had to cover your ear and listen, and everyone that was calling was just so upset and we didn't even know what was happening to tell them.”

It was grapefruit-sized hail that left Wylie covered in blue tarps. About 80% of the city's 15,000 homes were damaged.

“The fire chief at one point had to tell us stop answering the ceiling is caving in,” Zerger said.

The public safety center ended up a total loss.

For weeks, dispatchers worked out of a trailer, then from a modular home until the new center reopened last year.

“We've improved, we've made a lot of improvement since that day, but it was a tough day to get there,” said Wylie Fire Chief Brandon Blythe.

Blythe showed us around the new facility, especially the kitchen that now doubles as a tornado shelter. It’s complete with back-up dispatch equipment, “to be able to continue and answering the radio,” Blythe said.

The National Weather Service measured the size of the hail in Wylie at 5.25 inches.

Hondo, Texas holds the state record for the largest hail ever -- 6.4 inches -- set in 2021.

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