Cleanup efforts at businesses, residences and organizations continued in and near Amarillo Sunday, after wind gusts reaching 80 mph blew for most of Wednesday. Glass shattered, debris scattered, and signage and roofs unhinged from their foundation.
Two sheds at the Potter County Detention Center’s livestock encampment were damaged, while another shed on the property was decimated. A sally port door was blown in, and the wind ripped away portions of the roof over the jail. A mezzanine lays between the roof of the jail and the ceiling of the inmates' cells, so prisoners were not affected by the relentless wind.
PCSO’s Sheriff Brian Thomas said the roof has been temporarily repaired, but he is not praying for rain anytime soon.
“The problem is, if it rains, there are cracks (in the mezzanine) which will fill up our cells with water, then I’d have 300 inmates I’d have to find a place to put,” he said. “How long it’s going to take to get it all repaired, nobody knows. For one, it’s an insurance claim and two, everybody in the Panhandle is trying to find materials to replace.”
A week prior to Wednesday, Terri Gammage, founder of Panhandle Safe Hayven Equine Rescue, lost a barn roof to winds, that while not as forceful, were strong enough to lift off of a barn at her Chapman Drive location.
As wind beat the Texas Panhandle Wednesday, Gammage lost a shed at her Western Street location and two others were damaged.
“When the one shed rolled, it took out a bunch of fencing, so we’ve got horses scattered all over the place right now because we didn’t have enough shelter,” she said.
Though none of Gammage’s rescued horses were emotionally stirred by wind, seven of them were displaced.
“We have to get these barns back up, there’s no way around that or we don’t put horses back over there," she said.
Gammage doesn’t have insurance so volunteers have offered to help repair fencing and weld the roof to hopefully prevent a repeat of the damage.
“It’s going to be a whole lot better construction than what we had,” she said. “We’re going to go back up with steel instead of wood 2-x-4s and everything is going to be welded instead of nailed in or screwed in.”
Gammage said they need prayers and volunteers, for ongoing care at the rescue center and to help make repairs.
She said, “If I have people show up that say they will, we’ll get it (all) done by Monday night at the latest. But with volunteers, you never know.”
John King went to work at Tascosa Office Machines when he got a surprising, random phone call Wednesday afternoon.
“A guy (from AMTX Roofing & Restoration) called and said, ‘I hear you need a roofer,' ” he said, “so I called my wife and asked her to go home and check our house. When she called, I could tell in her voice, it was bad.”
In addition to large amounts of debris in their yard, the Kings lost their metal roof over their living room and kitchen.
“It took the roofing, it took plywood off, and as the wind started coming into my attic, there was so much pressure, it blew out one of the sides of my soffit,” King said. “One little sharp piece of plywood went through my ceiling and left a little hole.
“The metal from the roof was just wrapped around the trees.”
King was in disbelief at the damage done to his Canyon home and his neighbor’s.
He said, “I’ve got to settle up with my neighbor … my roof knocked some of the tops off of his brick pillars on his picket fence.”
King, who does not have insurance to cover the damage, said he estimated the cost of repairs to be at least $10,000.
Wednesday’s tremendous wind led to power outages, downed trees, toppled semi-trucks and a prompted a warning from the Texas Department of Transportation to stay off the roads if possible. According to the city of Amarillo, 20 traffic signals were damaged or without power in the wind storm, which shocked the city’s emergency resources in the record-setting event.
The city reported that as of Saturday morning, all of Amarillo's traffic signals are operational. Power was restored to the NE 24th St. Pump Station, restoring water utilities back to normal operation. Solid waste crews worked Saturday to complete the opening access through the residential alleys and will continue to focus on the curbside pickup program next week to clear storm debris.