Big winds punctuate couple’s wedding

Freedom New Mexico

Jerry and James Priest lived in a cramped trailer home for nine months last year after their home was torn apart by the tornado.

Parts of their 85-year-old home were strewn around their 75 acres south of Clovis. A new office for their auction business set up in a trailer was turned upside down and smashed into the ground.

But Jerry Priest said a silver lining is starting to stretch on the horizon.

They plan to start building a new house on the foundation of the old one this week.

“We’ve come a long ways, but we haven’t near gotten everything picked up,” she said.

The Priests were having dinner at a relative’s home when the tornado struck. Jerry said they made their way home at midnight and saw the devastation the twister left.

“It was in such a mess,” she said. “It was like, ‘Where do I start at?’ Everything was a mess.”

She said the outpouring of help from the community was a bright spot during that dark time.

“The help was tremendous,” she said.

— Gabriel Monte

Willie and Kristal Walker spent part of their wedding night huddled in the basement of a milk barn.

The couple married in Clovis the morning of March 23, 2007. They were visiting friends at the Milagro Dairy that evening for a barbecue, when Kristal’s friend’s husband drove up and rushed them to the basement because of the coming
tornado.

“Oh my God, it was so scary,” Kristal Walker said.

The couple came home to their residence on South Prince Street to find it mostly intact, she said.
“We were one of the few that came home to a house,” she said.

But the next few days were rather strange. With no electricity and no one allowed to drive on that stretch of U.S. 70 where she lives, “it felt like we were secluded, like we were the only people alive,” she said. “It seemed like eternity.”

They spent their “honeymoon” cleaning up debris from the tornado.

“It was so devastating to hear everybody talking. The trailers across the street were flattened,” Kristal said. “You could hear the people screaming when they saw their houses like that.”

Kristal is working on planting some flower beds, and said she hopes to go to a Clovis restaurant for her first anniversary.