By Marlena Hartz : Freedom Newspapers
Her eyes were bloodshot. Dirt was smeared across her T-shirt. But Conrada Figueroa pressed on. She and her family chipped away remnants of Friday’s tornado from her yard — sweeping debris into piles, pushing tree limbs into a corner.
This was Monday’s story: A community continued to grapple with the most destructive tornado in its history.
“As devastating as it is, we’re going to be OK,” Curry County Commission Chairman Albin Smith said.
Estimates of damage inflicted by Friday’s storm spiked Sunday.
The tornado carved nine miles of destruction through the Clovis area, beginning in southern Curry County and extending to Colonial Park in Clovis, according to Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas.
Block by block assessments revealed about 500 businesses and homes were impacted by Friday’s storm, authorities said.
A team from the New Mexico Emergency Operation Center determined more than 100 properties were seriously damaged and more than 50 were destroyed, New Mexico Emergency Operation Center Director Jeff Phillips said Sunday.
Hundreds more properties sustained minor damage from the powerful storm, he said.
“Something like this — it’s hard to accept. People say ‘why me,’” said Tony Bonney, whose niece, Conrada, lost the roof of her home in the storm.
Bulldozers buzzed through his niece’s southern neighborhood and throughout the city Monday. In Curry County alone, 120 truckloads of debris were hauled from neighborhoods.
“We’ve been able to make a good progress,” Thomas said.
More detailed damage assessments will commence today when Federal Emergency Management Agency officials arrive to determine what, if any, aid they can offer.
Certain thresholds of damage must be met before federal assistance is released.
Officials said about 35 people were injured by the storm.
Four tornado victims admitted to the Clovis hospital on Friday had been released by
Monday, according to Plains Regional Medical Center Chief Nurse Liz Crouch.
A critically injured woman was released to her home Monday in accordance with her family’s wishes, Crouch said. That woman’s name is Heleneta Blevins, 90, her daughter, Betty Denton, told the Clovis News Journal.
Another victim, Walter Cravy, also 90, was in critical condition Monday at the Covenant-Lakeside Hospital in Lubbock, according to a Covenant employee and a family member.
Despite serious damage at a junior high school, Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said classes would resume at the end of spring break on Monday.
Yucca Junior High School absorbed about $800,000 in damage, she said.
“Our heating and ventilation units are now scattered throughout the community,” Seidenwurm said.
School officials combed neighborhoods and retrieved most of them, she said, and a local construction company tackled Yucca repairs Monday.
Only minor damage was reported at Parkview and Lockwood elementary schools.
The majority of homes in the Clovis area had electricity by Monday, Xcel Energy spokesperson Wade Whitehead said. He said about 250 would remain without power into today.
About 90 power lines were knocked down in the storm and Xcel Energy sustained about $100,000 in damage, officials said.
As of Monday, the Salvation Army had placed 183 people in hotels, according to Salvation Army Capt. Tammy Ray.
Those in hotels were encouraged Monday to find alternative housing within the next three days, Ray said.
l Curry County Crime Stoppers is requesting information leading to the arrest of the persons involved in a burglary of a Salvation Army Mobile Kitchen at 317 East 2nd St. in Clovis.
According to a Crime Stoppers news release, the incident occurred sometime between the hours of 11 p.m. Sunday night and 7 a.m. Monday morning
Stolen items include food, food warmers, silverware, coffee maker and Cambro hot liquid. The estimated value of the stolen items is $1,200.
If you have any information about the person responsible for the theft of the tornado relief supplies, call 763-7000. Callers may remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward.
At a glance
• The Salvation Army and American Red Cross are headquartered at the Curry County Fairgrounds. Restoration materials — including saws and tarps — are available. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Information: Red Cross at 763-4129 or Salvation Army at 762-3801
• The New Mexico Department of Health will supply emergency tetanus vaccination from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Curry County Fairgrounds. Anyone who sustained a skin penetrating injury and has not received a tetanus vaccine in the last five years is advised to get the vaccine.
• The Curry County administration office, located inside the Curry County courthouse, is compiling a list of addresses damaged or destroyed by the tornado. Name, address and a phone number are needed. The list will be turned over to the Red Cross.
• Tornado victims can apply for emergency assistance, such as vouchers, toiletries, and food, through the Human Service Department Income Support Division.
• Curry County ISD Office — 762-4751
• Quay County ISD Office — 461-4627
• Roosevelt County ISD Office — 356-4473
• Clients who have lost their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards or food purchased through the Food Stamp program, can get replacements at the Income Support Division located at 3316 North Main St., Suite A, Clovis.
• The Eastern Plains Emergency Action Agencies can provide food assistance vouchers, one month emergency rental assistance, prescription assistance, clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags, bottled water, infant formula and diapers. Call 769-1094 for information.
• Cannon Air Force Base has established an “Airmen for an Afternoon” program to provide homeowners with manpower to help with storm recovery efforts.
• The 16th and Pile Church of Christ has items to distribute for tornado disaster relief — including nonperishable food, water, clothes and baby items. For information contact Bob Hoy at 791-7415 or Kay Prater at 760-3573.
• Anyone that has been affected by the tornado and is need of services is requested to call the Red Cross at 763-4129 or contact the Salvation Army at 317 E. 2nd St in Clovis or call 762-3801. A location for people to contact the Red Cross in person will be identified in the near future.