Storm kept 911 dispatchers on their toes

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer

A sampling of calls taken by four Clovis 911 dispatchers during the March 23 tornado:

Dispatcher: Debby Blankenship

7:55 p.m.
Dispatcher: Clovis 911, what is your emergency?
Caller: Just calling to report what appears to be a tornado having passed through just south of Clovis.
Dispatcher: Where at?
Caller: If it hasn’t been
reported, there’s power lines down and houses with roofs off and stuff.
Dispatcher: Where at?
Caller: Just north of the Southwest Cheese road off of Highway 70.
Dispatcher: OK, do you know if anybody’s hurt?
Caller: Um, I can’t tell. I’m just on the highway right now but I just thought I’d report it.
Dispatcher: What’s your name?
Caller: Mark Travis.
Dispatcher: OK, a phone number?
Dispatcher: We’ve got several more houses hit on South Prince.
Caller: Gives number.
Dispatcher: OK, thank you for calling us.

7:58 p.m.
Dispatcher: Clovis 911, what is your emergency?
Caller: Yes, I’m on Castle Road and a tornado hit my house (crying).
Dispatcher: OK, stay calm, what’s your address.
Caller: 616 Castle Road and I was in the closet and everything’s everywhere.
Dispatcher: OK, all right, calm down for me. You’re on Castle Road?
Caller: I’m on Castle Road.
Dispatcher: What’s your address?
Caller: 616 Castle Road.
Dispatcher: Castle Road?
Caller: Yes, by the King’s Castle.
Dispatcher: Are you all right?
Caller: I’m all right. I was hiding in the closet.
Dispatcher: Is anybody hurt?
Caller: No ma’am, but I had heart surgery about a year and a half ago, and I’m pretty upset.
Dispatcher: OK, what is your name?
Caller: Mary Anne (inaudible).
Dispatcher: OK, do you want an ambulance?
Caller: I don’t know, I don’t know what to do.
Dispatcher: OK, hun, I’ll send one out, OK?
Caller: OK, thank you.

8:01 p.m.
Caller: Hello, 911?
Dispatcher: Yes.
Caller: Yeah, I live at 3122 South Prince and we got hit by the tornado.
Dispatcher: Are there any injuries?
Caller: And power lines are down
Dispatcher: Are there any injuries?
Caller: Um, none to my knowledge.
Dispatcher: OK. And what is your name?
Caller: Mike Krell. … I got some people in my apartment. It’s not too bad. We live where there’s four or five of them.
Dispatcher: OK, is anybody hurt?
Caller: Um, I don’t think anybody’s hurt, but there’s a lot of damage.
Dispatcher: You said the tornado did hit your house?
Caller: Yeah, I live in an apartment out here. Our apartment, it’s got power lines down.
Dispatcher: OK, we’ll let them know, OK?
Caller: OK.

8:03 p.m.
Dispatcher: Hello? Hello?
Caller: We need an ambulance at 240 Mississippi. The trailer right across the street just blew, it’s tipping all out and my neighbor’s hurt.
Dispatcher: How many?
Caller: One.
Dispatcher: OK, I’ll get an ambulance.
Caller: OK, bye.

8:05 p.m.
Dispatcher: Clovis 911, what is your emergency?
Caller: My neighborhood is destroyed
Dispatcher: Where at?
Caller: South side of Clovis.
Dispatcher: What’s your address?
Caller: 1113 S. Lea, my neighbor’s house is on top of my house. Hurry.
Dispatcher: OK, sir, is anybody hurt?
Caller: South side of Clovis. I don’t know. Everything is destroyed everywhere.
Dispatcher: Is anybody hurt?
Caller: I don’t know. We’re looking. Just send the people.
Dispatcher: OK, we’ll get them out there. … 1113 S. Lea, I’ve got a house on top of a house. They’re checking for injuries.

8:06 p.m.
Caller: Hello? Yes, yes, there’s a trailer on the side of the house. I don’t believe it.
Dispatcher: OK, what is your address?
Caller: 1112 S. Lea
Dispatcher: And your house is on top of 1113?
Caller: No, it’s my next-door neighbor’s.
Dispatcher: OK, is anybody hurt?
Caller: As far as I know, no.
Dispatcher: And what is your name?
Caller: My name is Joe Sena
Dispatcher: Joe? And do you know if anybody’s hurt? You don’t know?
Caller: I’m looking and people are running around, I think everybody’s OK.
Dispatcher: If you find injuries call me back.
Caller: OK.

8:06 p.m.
Dispatcher: Hello?
Caller: Yeah, I live on Grand and there’s fire and gas leaking across on …
Dispatcher: OK, what’s your address?
Caller: We’re on Grand.
Dispatcher: Where on Grand?
Caller: 1100 Grand. There is a trailer park across the street and there’s gas. There’s people inside. There’s trailers down.
Dispatcher: OK, I’ll get them out there, what is your name?
Caller: My name’s Serena.
Dispatcher: I’ll get them out there, OK?
Caller: OK, thank you.

Dispatcher: Eric Archuleta

7:46 p.m.
Dispatcher: Clovis 911, hello?
Caller: 979 CR4. We’ve been hit by a tornado.
Dispatcher: Is anybody hurt?
Caller: No, not that we know of.
Dispatcher: Which way was it going?
Caller: I don’t know.
Dispatcher: What kind of damage was done?
Caller: We think the roof is gone.
Dispatcher: 979 CR4?
Caller: Yes.
Dispatcher: 979 CR 4 was hit. It’s gone. House is gone.

7:46 p.m.
Caller: This is the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. We just wanted to tell you we’ve continued to track what appears to be a tornadic cell heading toward Clovis. We expect it to reach the central and southwest parts of the city in between 10 to 12 minutes, so about the top of the hour.
Dispatcher: So it’s going to hit the central part of the city?
Caller: We’re looking at the southwest parts of the city right now, but just giving kind of a buffer.
Dispatcher: So 10 to 12 minutes?
Caller: Around the top of the hour, OK?
Dispatcher: OK, bye.

Dispatcher: Daniel Freeman

7:47 p.m.
Caller: There’s a tornado on the ground. … We’re right by the county line. There is a tornado south of Clovis and I just went through it. It got like four or five transmitters.
Dispatcher: South of Clovis, where? Um, by Cortez Gas, you said?
Caller: We’re by Cortez now. We just all lost power.

7:53 p.m.
Caller: There’s just been a tornado on the ground. There’s a lot of wrecks.
Dispatcher: Where at?
Caller: On the Clovis highway.
Dispatcher: On the Clovis highway where?
Caller: Three miles past Cortez.
Dispatcher: Where is that car exactly?
Caller: It’s in the middle of the highway. … (Inaudible) Just send somebody please. … (Inaudible) Oh my God.

Dispatcher: Laura Gleaton
7:54 p.m.
Caller: This is Lt. Johnson. You got pretty good damage on the south end of town. My wife’s been in a crash on the highway.
Dispatcher: Yeah. We’re trying to get all our deputies out there now.
Caller: OK, it’s all shot on the south side of town. I’m on Fifth in the 900 block and everything’s down. … (Inaudible) … pretty extensive damage.

7:58 p.m.
Caller: (Inaudible) Wastewater plant. There’s a twister on the ground. It came through here. We can see it.
Dispatcher: We’re trying to do the best we can. We’ve got officers everywhere and …
Caller: I know, ma’am, I just wanted to let you know.

8:01 p.m.
Caller: My mom’s house … across the street from my mom’s house a trailer’s blown over at 2328 S. Prince.
Dispatcher: 2328? I’ve got officers headed out that way right now, OK? Do you know if anybody’s inside?
Caller: I don’t know. It’s across the street from my mother’s house. It’s actually our rent house.
Dispatcher: OK. They’re headed out that way, OK?
Caller: OK.

8:01 p.m.
Caller: We have electric poles and vehicles everywhere. A tornado hit our apartment.
Dispatcher: Where are you?
Caller: 3122 S. Prince
Dispatcher: 3122 S. Prince?
Caller: 3122 S. Prince
Dispatcher: All right, I’ve got an ambulance headed out that way and officers, all right?
Caller: OK.

8:02 p.m.
Dispatcher: Clovis 911, what is your emergency?
Caller: My house has just been blown away.
Dispatcher: Where are you?
Caller: 3200 S. Prince.
Dispatcher: 3200 S. Prince?
Caller: Yes.
Dispatcher: OK, I’ve got a couple of officers headed out that way, OK?
Caller: Thank you.

8:03 p.m.
Caller: Uh, yes ma’am, we just got hit by a tornado and I need (somebody) to pull us out of the barrow ditch. My family’s in the car and I got …
Dispatcher: Are you south of town?
Caller: Yes.
Dispatcher: I’ve got officers headed out that way.

8:04 p.m.
Caller: Um, yes, I live at 713 Maple. The tornado just came past our house and I think it might have ripped a gas main or something up in the alley ’cause there’s a lot of noise back there in the alley.
Dispatcher: 713 Maple?
Caller: It’s the gas main or something in the back. The tornado just came through here and tore up our cars, back yard and everything.
Dispatcher: OK, I’ll let them know, OK?
Caller: OK, thank you.

8:05 p.m.
Caller: The tornado just hit my house and took out my gas meter.
Dispatcher: OK, we’ve got them headed out right now.
Caller: OK.

8:06 p.m.
Caller: This is Lisa at the Castro County Sheriff’s Office and I just had one of my paramedics call to see if you’ll need extra help. We’ve got extra units, paramedics, EMTs that are available if you need.
Dispatcher: OK, if you’d like, you could start heading this way but please take extreme caution because out on U.S. 70, south of Clovis, we’ve had reports of several homes being hit.
Caller: U.S. 70?
Dispatcher: Between Clovis and Portales. South of Clovis we have reports of several homes being hit and we have no idea how many injured we have.
Caller: OK, I’ll let them know.
Dispatcher: Thank you.

8:09 p.m.
Caller: I’d like to report some destroyed houses.
Dispatcher: OK, sir is that south of town?
Caller: It’s over on Mississippi.
Dispatcher: OK, sir we’ve got several people headed out that way.
Caller: It’s been destroyed.
Dispatcher: OK, we’ve got several people headed out that way now.
Caller: Thank you.

8:09 p.m.
Caller: Yes, I live at 1412 Eastridge and when I open my front door I can smell gas. Rather strong fumes.
Dispatcher: We will try to get out there as quickly as possible.
Caller: OK, I do understand, I just wanted you to know about the gas leak ’cause it’s a big one.
Dispatcher: OK, thanks.
Caller: Thanks.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson