Volunteers pitch in to clean up following EF-2 tornado in Dexter

New Mexico

Dozens of volunteers were in Dexter on Thursday, cleaning up from Tuesday’s devastating tornado. They brought their bulldozers and shovels, ready to lend a helping hand.

Strong winds made it dangerous and almost impossible for cleanup on Wednesday.

“Churches, people were just pouring in,” said Francisca Granado.

People like Granado were finally allowed back into their homes Thursday. Tuesday evening’s tornado tore through the small town, leaving behind a path of destruction. Mobile homes were thrown into neighboring yards, trees were uprooted, and windows were shattered.

“There was like, dust…the windows busted so dust came in,” said 8-year-old Jaxon Fajardo.

“We could barely breathe so we started crying,” said his older brother, Giovanni Fajardo.

It’s something Dexter has never seen before.

“It was our first tornado so we just had so many emotions going on at that second,” said Giovanni.

When the sirens went off, people did the only thing they knew to do: get to a safe place.

“All I heard was (makes whooshing noise) and that’s when my mom grabbed all of us and just threw us in a closet,” said Omar Gomez.

Despite a big mess and a lot of work ahead, it hasn’t broken the residents there. Many say, if anything, the tornado has brought them together.

“Seeing everybody out here helping, it means a whole bunch to us, because we know we’re not alone,” said Granado.

“It feels good to help around the community, to change—to help make some change. It feels good,” said volunteer Marcos Rodriguez.

Even surrounding areas like Roswell are still feeling the effects of this week’s severe weather. Wind gusts up to 75 mph damaged part of the roof at Sierra Middle School there. Fences were also knocked over, and falling metal and trees closed down Main Street

The National Weather Service is classifying Tuesday’s tornado as an EF-2. Chaves County is requesting emergency financial assistance from the state.

All roads into Dexter are still closed to thru traffic and school there has been canceled all week. Classes are expected to resume Monday.

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