Neighbors band together in cleanup effort

Bob Sellers of Clovis inventories his home on Fairmount Ct. Monday for insurance purposes. Sellers said he and his wife, Dina, have been grateful for help from neighbors and the whole Clovis community. (CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer

Hundreds of volunteers descended on a small neighborhood south of Brady Avenue on Monday to clean up decimated homes and debris-cluttered streets left in the aftermath of Friday’s tornado.

The most damaging tornado in Curry County history ripped a nine-mile path from southern Curry County 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.