Community reaches out to storm victims

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

Standing watch at one of several entry points to the devastated area south of Clovis, Sgts. Danny Nunez and James Montgomery of the Clovis National Guard unit said they never expected to serve their community in a disaster like the one that struck Friday.

Three hours into their duties, Nunez said the damage brought about a sense of familiarity after assisting with Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s good helping the community,” Nunez said.

Maj. Ernest Branscum of the Lubbock Salvation Army Corps said he came into Clovis on Saturday to help. Offering food and water at multiple disaster scenes and at a temporary relief shelter set up at the Clovis High School’s Rock Staubus Gymnasium,

Branscum said his unit plans to stay in the area as long as needed.

By midafternoon, Branscum said there had been a few residents who had stopped by the shelter but said he expected many more as evening settled.

“After working all day long, they’re going to want something to eat,” he said.
Salvation Army volunteer Deanna White said workers were standing by in preparation for a crowd Saturday night. Sleeping arrangements at the high school were being worked out in addition to hotel accommodations, she said.

“We don’t know what tonight’s going to bring,” White said.

Rebecca Lucas, another Salvation Army volunteer at the high school, said efforts were being made to place as many families in hotels as possible. The arrangements are being made on a nightly basis, she said.

The Salvation Army is the lead agency handling relief efforts in Clovis and Curry County, according to United Way of Eastern New Mexico Executive Director Erinn Burch.

Burch said designating one nonprofit as the lead in a disaster facilitates handling and communication, and allows better case management.

She said the United Way board plans to meet Monday morning to discuss how to help and consider dispersing emergency funds.

The Red Cross has been designated the lead for Logan, according to Burch. The Quay County community was hit by a tornado earlier on Friday, and about 30 homes were destroyed.

By the numbers

• 13 — Clovis families placed in hotels by the Salvation Army

• 25 — cases of water brought into affected neighborhoods.

• 700 — estimated individual container meals delivered in distressed Clovis neighborhoods.

Source: Maj. Ernest Branscum, Lubbock Salvation Army Corps

Want to help?

The best donations in disaster situations are monetary, according to Clovis Salvation Army Capt. Tammy Ray.

Monetary donations can be made to The Salvation Army, mailed to P.O. Box 900, Clovis, New Mexico, 88101 or dropped by the Salvation Army office at 301 E. 2nd St.

Put donations in an envelope and write ‘tornado.’

In-kind donations are discouraged until more is known about the needs of those displaced, Ray said.

“We really don’t know yet what will be needed (in terms of aid for displaced families),” Ray said Saturday.

To volunteer to help families displaced by the tornado, call the Salvation Army at 505-762-3801.