By Emily Crowe
CNJ staff writer
Renee Ortiz awoke Monday morning to an unwanted guest at her front door — tumbleweeds covering her home from the roof down to the street.
“I got up this morning and I went to the backyard and it was fine,” she said. “Then I walked to the front of the house and I opened the blinds and it looked like my window was broken.”
A few neighbors and good Samaritans stepped up to help Ortiz and her two children, who live on Wicks Avenue in northwest Clovis, uncover the home and clear a path to the front door and driveway.
Heavy winds late Sunday night into early Monday morning blew in massive amounts of tumbleweeds from a field north of the neighborhood off Llano Estacado Boulevard, west of Walmart.
According to the Clovis Public Works Department, hardest hit was the vicinity of Cheyenne Trails, Wicks Avenue, Lore Street and Red Cloud Place.
The highest wind gust in Clovis was measured at 61 mph at 11:55 p.m. Sustained winds hovered around 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
Public Works Director Clint Bunch said crews from his department, parks and recreation and other city offices were in the neighborhood early Monday to clear city right-of-ways, including streets and alleys.
“We’re not supposed to get on private property,” he said, “but we’re trying to help people right now get it out of their driveways and away from front doors.”
Bunch said airmen from Cannon Air Force Base also helped with the cleanup effort by providing manpower and additional equipment.
“We’re trying to haul off as much as we can,” Bunch said.
Russ Gould, whose home on Cheyenne Drive was hit especially hard , said Monday’s tumbleweed pileup was the worst he’s seen in 20 years.
“I got woken up about midnight last night,” he said. “It sounded like hail.”
A passerby offered help cleaning up the mess, but with nowhere to put the tumbleweeds, Gould politely declined.
“It’s going to be a couple week job,” he said.
Bunch recommended that those affected by the pileup move tumbleweeds to the street or alley so city crews could get the worst of the problem cleaned up.
On Pecos Street near Bella Vista Arts Academy, Andrea Romero and her family spent nearly three hours removing tumbleweeds from the street and their front yard.
“I’ve lived here for years and years and never have I (seen it this bad),” she said. “Snow, maybe, but tumbleweeds, no.”
As for Ortiz, she was thankful to have the help of strangers.
“It’s just amazing that our community can do these things for each other,” she said. “It’s very rare to find that.”