TWISTERS DAMAGE PATH ACROSS ARIZONA LEAVES BELLEMONT FEELING LUCKY
“You should have been here Friday, the place looked like a tornado hit it!” My friend Joe Powell has a firm grip on the obvious and continues. “You should have been here Saturday and seen those 500 Latter Day Saint Volunteers who swooped into the devastated Flagstaff Meadows subdivision to help several of their own church members and their neighbors. Today is Tuesday and last Wednesday at least one tornado dropped from the sky and swept right down Bellemont Springs Drive blowing out all the windows and garage doors and hitting four homes at the end of the street head on and ripped off their roofs. No one was seriously injured, more 200 homes were damaged, forty were uninhabitable. Today Bellemont Springs is choked with repair trucks, dumpsters, insurance adjusters and the American Red Cross and security guards keep an eye on everyone and everything. On the other side of I-40 ten miles west of Flagstaff, Arizona on a rail line running through the Navajo Army Depot 30 Santa Fe railroad cars were derailed and rolled off the tracks. The hundred mile an hour winds also tossed idling semi trucks on their sides today work crews are trying to repair the rail bed and to right some of the derailment. “Not a soul was injured” insisted Powell, a Williams residentwho is helping out with residents tearing out the bad and replacing the good. Joe’s not really for hire, he just does it to salvage some supplies to build a storage shelter at home. Someone gave him a banged up BBQ, he says he will fix it and give it to a friend, today I’m his friend and he takes me around the corner of a home he is working on to see the 12′ boat foot jammed into the gable of the home. “Isn’t that remarkable!”, we both mouth in unison. “These folks should get down on their knees and give thanks” says Joe. Minutes before the first tornado in Bellemont touched down, Jeff Cox was standing in his garage, his children nestled in bed. Rain and hail pounded hard against the windows and a fierce wind made it look like houses were swaying.Then Cox heard a deafening sound and ducked beneath a trailer when the tornado struck, it tore off the roof of nearly his entire home and throwing it into the nearby forest. The Cox home was at the end of Bellemont Springs Drive and the tornado went right through it and exploded the four homes surrounding it. In the driveway of ground zero lies a “Camping World” sign in fair condition but almost two miles from its perch on the other side of i-40 where the RV business suffered huge losses as much of the inventory was slam banged onto the stores’ parking lot and swept into a pile, the business was not open today. This storm continued into Nevada leaving record rainfall and into California bring heavy snow in the High Sierra. Tornados are rare in Arizona and while the state averages four twisters a year rarely do they all come at once.