Memories of March 23, the day the tornado hit Logan

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Nowadays, when a high wind kicks up, many Logan residents cast an eye skyward, or over their shoulder.

They aren’t able to toss it off as the typical winds off the eastern plains.

What they can’t help recalling is March 23, a year ago, when a bright, sunny Friday afternoon quickly turned dark and spawned tornadic winds topping out at 105 mph at about 3:45 p.m. The tornado — some say there were two — hopscotched through Logan tearing up lives as it crumpled and tossed metal carports, homes and cars about the small lake village.

“It looked like bombs in the air,” recalled Dave Shivers.

“We all get a little nervous when we hear the wind,” said Brinda Kuhlman.

Kuhlman, her husband, Ronald and their daughter, Kasey, grabbed a kitchen cabinet support and held on as the tornado ripped the roof off of their home.

“When you see a dark cloud, that day always comes back to mind,” said Ruby Vigil, who endured the tornado in her bathroom with her husband, John, and the Vigils’ two dogs.

It seems that even the pets haven’t forgotten.

“The dogs get edgy,” when they hear the wind, Brinda Kuhlman said. “They want to get close to us.”

“The biggest thing we are thankful for is that no one got hurt. It could have been a lot worse,” said Ruby Vigil.

After the winds died down, people came out of their homes dazed. Many ran to assist others.

Annette Shivers, an EMT, and her husband, Dave, started checking on people.

The safety and welfare of others pulled the village together, recalled John Vigil.

For example, Gary Knight, owner and manager of the Budget Inn Express, opened his inn to several residents who lost their homes. “What else could I do,” Knight said.

Some stayed about a week and some stayed almost a month, until they could make other living arrangements.

In the meantime, the clean-up began. The Vigils had to empty out their home and put their belongings in storage. “People just showed up and helped,” John Vigil recalled.

A friend offered them a guest house while they waited for their new home. “We’re grateful to have had that place,” Ruby Vigil said.

John Vigil, the former Ute Lake park superintendent, had recently retired. “I had worked hard for 25 years to retire and in just a few minutes it changed everything.”

The Vigils had insurance, but insurance doesn’t cover everything, they said.

While the Vigils had arranged to have their home replaced in several months, the Kuhlmans are still waiting for their new single-wide to arrive.
It’s arrival, which is expected in April or May, will be bittersweet. Some of the delay has been caused by Brinda Kuhlman’s desire to have her kitchen layout as she envisions. “We’re going to get everything at once, but I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” she said.

On that Friday, Angie Chavez’s grandson was repairing the skirting on the trailer because it had come loose and it was noisy as the wind caused it to flap against the trailer.

Chavez’s home was possibly the first home struck by the tornado. One mobile home trailer that was connected to the main residence was destroyed and a semi-tractor trailer used for storage was flipped over on top of a classic Volkswagen Bug.

Many repairs to the home have helped in the recovery process. The front porch that was destroyed is now repaired and houses her new sewing room. The trailer that had flipped over on top of the VW bug has been set upright and patched, and is now used again for storage, Chavez said.

“Sometimes the wind picks up and you can’t help but feel nervous,” Angie Chavez said. “I know it has been a year, but the memories and feelings from that day are as fresh as the day they happened. Things are going great, I have made a lot of repairs and things are almost back to normal. I’m still stressed when the wind comes up, but in time, I hope that will pass.”

Staff writer Thomas Garcia contributed to this report.

Fast Facts abou the March 23, 2007 tornado that hit Logan

The Logan tornado created an intermittent three-mile damage track, according to a report from the National Weather Service. NWS investigators are also detrmined that:
• Preliminary, estimated maximum winds from this tornado ranged from 100 to 105 mph.
• The first indication of damage was noted in the open range, one mile south of Logan (where Highway 54 crosses the Canadian River), north along the 4th Street area.
• The heaviest damage was noted on the south end of 4th Street, from Lake Drive north for approximately five blocks.
• The last significant damage area was noted in the northern neighborhoods just north of Highway 39. RVs and trailers sustained the most significant damage in the Logan area.