Many still suffering after tornado

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

Much of the damage has been repaired in the two months since a tornado hopscotched through the city March 23.

However, secondary concerns are beginning to surface, according to Erinn Burch, executive director of United Way of Eastern New Mexico.

People who were able to find temporary lodging following the tornado are now in need of more permanent, lasting solutions, she said.
Others are finding insurance didn’t cover what they expected.

“Most of the community is probably cranking right along, but there’s a lot of folks out there who still aren’t back together,” Burch said.

The most destructive tornado in Clovis history claimed two lives and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.

Burch said she observes a lot of victims with emotional issues.

“You have phases in everything,” she said. “The stress of the situation, that kind of adrenaline keeps people going, then at this point and into the future, depression and other things set in.

“You have to pick up that old life and old problems. People run out of energy and hope — it’s important to remember that people are still fragile. There are families and folks out there that are far from getting over it.”

Formed in response to the tornado, the Eastern New Mexico Disaster Recovery Council tries to bridge gaps between assistance and insurance coverage and the actual loss. Experts estimate 10 to 15 percent of disaster victims will have uncovered expenses, Burch said.

More than 100 people in Curry and Quay counties are working with council case managers, she said.

Victims are still being directed toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency for initial assistance, Burch said.

The deadline for FEMA registration is June 1.

Local government officials said public infrastructure, on the other hand, is virtually back to normal.

City Manager Joe Thomas said reimbursement requests for state assistance are being prepared. More than $500,000 is being requested for damages to city property not covered by insurance and for resources used in the aftermath of the tornado, he said.

He estimated total damages and costs to the city will exceed $600,000.

Otherwise, physical efforts have mostly drawn to a close. “We really have pretty well wound down everything we were doing,” he said.

A similar request submitted by the county for approximately $56,000 was denied, County Finance Manager Mark Lansford said. The state felt the county had sufficient financial reserves to sustain tornado-related expenses, he said.

It is not an insurmountable cost for the county, he said, explaining there is little if any recovery left for public county property.

“We did not go out and render public assistance with getting a reimbursement in mind. Our intention was to help people in need,” he said.

“If we had gotten a reimbursement, that would have been nice, (but) given the same facts and circumstances we’d be out there helping people again.”

Fast facts

U.S. Small Business Administration, disaster loans:

320 Connelly Street

Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

SBA will remain in the area as long as there is a need, according to spokesperson Phil Duncan.

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, the “Green Shirts,” will be in Clovis on Monday, talking with people in tornado-affected neighborhoods. Their goal is to identify needs that remain and to provide an estimate.

They will focus on the hardest hit areas. Residents living further from the main areas of damage wishing to speak with them can call 211 or 935-0211.

Residents with long-term unmet needs from the tornado can call the Eastern New Mexico Disaster Recovery Council at 211 or 935-0211.

The U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance office has approved:
27 home loans for $877,900
Four business loans for $340,500