Tornado destroys 30 homes in Quay County

Tim Loveland said the wind knocked his trailer and belongings over as he was traveling on U.S. 54 driving into Logan from Tucumcari. Loveland was passing through on his way to the Phoenix area. (Freedoms Newspapers: Chelle Delaney)

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom Newspapers

LOGAN – A tornado touched down in the Village of Logan injuring one person, destroying about 30 mobile and motor homes and damaging others, Quay County emergency manager Mike Cherry said.

“It was a 12-block area that received damage,” Cherry said. “One person was taken to Trigg Memorial Hospital by the Logan EMS and several people received minor injuries.”

At 6:30 p.m., there were about 35 people who had taken refuge in Logan’s old high school gym, Cherry said.

The town is without electric service. “At this time we’re not sure when the power will be restored. They will have power at the high school. Tomorrow, in the daylight, we’ll be able to give a better assessment of the damage,” Cherry said.

Most of the homes in the Sunshine Trailer Park on Fourth Street were missing or destroyed.

“All I care about are my pictures,” said Virginia Knight, who was rescuing items from what remained of her fifth-wheel trailer.

What was left of her home had been tossed about 30 feet from its lot and hookups.
Luckily, Knight said, she wasn’t at home. “But I saw my car lift up several inches off the ground.”

About 200 feet down Fourth Street, the steel frame of one trailer lay askew partially on the street, the only thing that was intact and left of Mary Lujan’s house.

“That’s all that’s left of my sister-in-law’s house,” said Steve Garcia.

“I didn’t have much damage, just a little to the roof,” Garcia said.

Across the street from Sunshine Park, John Vigil was surveying the damage to his home.

“All I could hear was a lot of wind,” he said. “My wife and I crouched down in our small bathroom. It only lasted about four to five second, but it seemed like a lifetime,” Vigil said.

The sides of Vigil’s mobile home had been damaged and sections of his roof were missing, he said.

The storm hit at about 3:20 p.m. on Friday, Cherry said.

Logan High School coach Billy Burns said, “We were working in the yard when it hit. We live out at the lake and most of what we got was high winds and golf ball-sized hail. The people in town got it the worst. We went into town to see if we could help and there was a lot of damage. There were power lines that were snapped and some houses were no longer standing.”

Residents living on Vigil Street, which dead ends at the Sunshine Trailer park, had scattered damage.

“It all started with a bunch of wind blowing and then I saw parts of roofs and trailer houses flying around,” said Romona Peachey. “We have a shed in the back and it ripped the roof off of it and blew it into the front yard. I have never seen so much damage.”

“I was working when the storm hit,” said Diane Grace. “I looked out the back of the Annex across the alley and saw tin roofs and large branches flying through the air. The power was out all over town and when I got to my house the back side of it was damaged. The walls were damaged from the wind and there was broken glass every where. I also found a large piece of somebody’s trailer in my yard.”

The town of Logan was littered with pink insulation, siding from homes and trailers and other pieces of debris.

Angie Lawrence pointed to a fence post with its concrete footing in her yard. “I have no idea where that came from.”

When the wind started blowing, “I was holding my four-year-old grandson and then I heard glass in the kitchen window break. I squatted down under the kitchen table and prayed real hard,” she said.

A trailer that was in her backyard and used for storage was “flipped over and all in pieces,” she said.

“My mind is scrambled from all this,” Lawrence said. “My car got a flat tire. The mirror was torn off the car. There’s metal and torn limbs all over the yard. Look at the utility pole, it’s torn in half,” she said.

Joe Otero said he was at the bank when the storm hit. “The lights went off in the bank and I went outside. The clouds started turning round and round. There was golf ball-sized hail. I drove up under the bridge at the old (highway) 54.”

Gary Knight, owner of the Budget Inn Express, said he was going to open up his motel to residents who had nowhere to go. “I don’t see how I can do any different,” he said. “They need help.”

Tim Loveland, a motorist on his way to the Phoenix area, may have been the storm’s first victim.

“I saw the winds turning round,” said Loveland, who had lost the back windows out his vehicle as the motor home he was hauling was blown over by the wind.

“I think I’m still in shock,” Loveland said, looking over at his trailer with its interior furnishings spilling out onto the shoulder of Highway 54.

Several residents reported seeing a funnel cloud, emergency manager Cherry said.
On Saturday morning, Cherry said, “A team from the National Weather Service out of Albuquerque will be here to assess the storm. They’ll be able to tell what category the storm was.”

A tornado watch had been in effect since early afternoon on Friday and was set to expire at 10 p.m.

Thomas Garcia contributed
to this report.