By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers
The sound of backhoes pushing mountains of rubble and voices shouting to one another filled the air of a neighborhood south of Brady Avenue on Monday afternoon as hundreds of volunteers cleaned up decimated homes and debris-cluttered streets in the aftermath of Friday’s tornado.
The most damaging tornado in Curry County history ripped a three-mile path from South Prince Street into Clovis.
In an alley behind Pine Street, Tech. Sgt. Rob Wright took a break from loading a trailer to get a drink of water.
“(We’re) just helping out where (we) can — these people got hit hard,” he said.
David Luera, his hands full of debris, tossed items onto a pile being collected for removal. Grit and sweat covering his face and arms, he paused to look around at the buzz of activity.
“We’re getting a lot done,” he said. “I feel so bad for these people.”
A member of Central Baptist Church, Luera said he and several fellow employees at the district attorney’s office took the day off to work with groups from their church.
District Attorney Matt Chandler, also a member of Central Baptist, helped carry debris out of a yard on Pine Street. Having been involved in efforts since the storm hit, Chandler said he wasn’t tired yet.
“You find a lot of resolve when you look at these families. It makes you want to push on when you get tired,” he said.
Tech. Sgt. Steve Mann was standing by with about 300 bottles of water, handing them out to thirsty workers.
Joseph Webster, an employee with Sudden Link Cable, said he came from Amarillo on Saturday, part of a crew of more than a dozen workers.
“It’s pretty bad,” he said, worse than he expected when he arrived in Clovis.
“(We’ll stay) till the job’s done,” he said.
With the exception of homes that have been condemned or have damaged electric meters, power is expected to be restored today in all areas, according to city officials.
Cannon Air Force Base canceled flying operations Monday to allow its military personnel to assist with cleanup efforts.
Approximately 450 military members are involved in cleanup operations. Heavy equipment including front-end loaders, backhoes and dump trucks are also being sent in to distressed areas to assist with debris removal, according to a Cannon press release.
“We have been fortunate to have a close and supportive relationship with our surrounding New Mexico neighbors and friends. The airmen at Cannon will do everything we can to help Clovis and Portales to recover from the tornado,” Cannon commander Col. Scott West said Monday.
“Our efforts are just a small way of saying thanks for the support our airmen have always received. … We don’t consider ourselves a separate part of the eastern New Mexico community; we’re part of it and glad to be able to help in the recovery efforts,” he said.
How to help
• Anyone wishing to volunteer for the clean up and recovery efforts is requested to call the Salvation Army at 762-3801.
• Any one wishing to make donations is asked to contact the Salvation Army or the Red Cross
Needs: Money donations, boxes, tape, plastic sheeting, tarps, new socks, new underwear, flashlights, and batteries.
• Anyone who wishes to help in the city of Clovis tornado clean up effort should report to Harry Wang, City of Clovis Public Works Director, at the Curry County Fairgrounds.
Wang will assign clean up areas to avoid congestion in affected areas.
•The city of Clovis requests people not assisting with the clean up effort avoid affected areas during the clean up process.