Logan’s clean up costs could reach $150K

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

The village of Logan is seeking federal funding to help in the cleanup of the damage from the tornado that hit Logan March 23.

Representatives from U.S. Rep. Tom Udall’s office visited the town of Logan on Thursday afternoon to talk with Larry Wallin, Logan’s village manager.

“The two representatives informed me that at 10 a.m., today (Thursday), “ Wallin said, “New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signed a declaration of disaster and sent it to Washington, D.C., in hopes that President Bush will declare Quay, Curry and Roosevelt counties a disaster.”

Wallin is hopeful that there will be a presidential declaration.

He is unsure of the cost of the damages to date done by the tornado but estimates the cleanup will cost $150,000.

“We are hoping that the state will cover 20 to 30 percent of the cost, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) will cover 75 percent and that Logan’s percentage will remain low,” said Wallin. “Our crews have been working overtime to try and clean up the debris.”

Some relief came from the state’s Environment Department when Secretary Ron Curry approved an emergency disposal plan for the Village of Logan to discard debris created by the recent tornadoes and storms, according to a press release from the Environment Department.

The plan allows Logan to construct an emergency disposal cell on 14 acres adjacent to Logan Landfill. The cell, which will only be used to deposit the tornado waste, will be open for nine months and will hold 30,000 loose yards of debris, the release stated.

“The cell will help the village save money on transportation costs for garbage hauling that would be necessary if the plan were not in place,” said Curry in the release.

Wallin said, “Disposing of the larger pieces of debris will be a lot simpler then disposing of the insulation that has been blown all over.”

Although several dozen homes were destroyed and others damaged, Wallin said he is grateful that there have been no known fatalities.

“If the tornado had stayed on the ground and followed the path it did, it would have destroyed many more homes, the school, the clinic and ambulance barn and possibly all of Third and Fourth streets,” said Wallin. “If the tornado had hit at 6:07 p.m., instead of 3:07 p.m., there might have been a lot more injuries and possibly some fatalities because more people would have been at home.”

On the day of the tornado, power outages, rapidly fading sunlight and heavy rains were not the only problems that clean up crews faced.

“We had a lot of people driving around looking at the damage done by the tornado,” said Wallin. “These people, at times, made it difficult for the crews to get in and out of areas and we finally had to close off the streets from public access.”

“Before the power was restored, we shut off the gas to all the houses that were affected by the storm,” said Conway Oil manager Ken Shiplet. “We did not want the sparking electrical wires setting off an open gas line adding to the problem. We moved numerous tanks and we had to move them one at a time.”

What steps could Logan take if there were another tornado?

“Sirens would be a good idea, except for the fact that many people would have nowhere to take shelter when the sirens sounded,” said Wallin.

“Constructing a public storm shelter is one possibility. We will be holding a briefing to review our current disaster plan and go over what worked and what didn’t in order to have our emergency personnel better prepared.”

Wallin said he truly appreciates the aid from surrounding communities and their residents.

“We never anticipated such an outpouring of support and volunteers who came out to help us in our time of need,” said Wallin. “There were so many volunteers wanting to help in the clean up effort that we didn’t know what to do with them all.”