Still no escape from wind for former Kansas residents

Dawn Martin holds her 7-year-old son Hunter while they inspect a large hole in the roof over a bedroom at the Martin home in Fruita Wednesday evening. Hunter was playing a computer game on the bed, left, as the branch from a nearby tree broke off and fell nearly 40 feet into the home. Hunter suffered no injuries but was hit by dry wall in the accident.

Dawn and Lewis Martin thought they had escaped the high winds of tornado alley when they moved to Fruita from Kansas two years ago.

But those winds followed the couple Wednesday when they blew through the Grand Valley, knocking down power lines and tree branches. One of those branches crashed into the Martins’ 162 Hollyberry Way home in south Fruita.

The couple’s 7-year-old son, Hunter, was playing a computer video game with two neighbor friends in a bedroom when a 50-foot long, 14-inch diameter branch stabbed through the home’s roof, missing him by inches.

Hunter was hit by some drywall, and his laptop computer was destroyed.

“It sounded like a freight train going through the house,” Dawn Martin said. “I’d bet you it moved the house.”

The branch came through the bedroom ceiling and extended into the living room. It was eerily similar to an incident that happened to the family a year before they left Kansas, Dawn Martin said.

That incident was only one of many throughout the valley Wednesday.

Xcel Energy and Grand Valley Rural Power crews were busy clearing debris and re-erecting power lines and poles after high winds buffeted the area for much of the day.

National Weather Service meteorologist Megan Schwitzer said those winds came from an extreme low over the Utah-Nevada border, which left the entire middle portion of the Intermountain West with strong winds of up to 60 mph.

Winds in Grand Junction gusted up to 47 mph by early evening, and some unconfirmed reports put it at nearly 55 mph, she said.

The gusts were expected to subside overnight, leaving lighter winds and cooler temperatures today, Schwitzer said.

Fred Eggleston, community service manager for Xcel, said his company’s crews dealt with five or six downed power lines around the city, which left fewer than 100 people temporarily without service.

“We’ve got some stuff going on, we had a pole snapped off, but very few people were affected by it,” Eggleston said. “It’s all wind-caused, branches, that kind of thing going on. Each one of these took about two to two and a half hours to clean up.”

For the Martins, the family had planned to go to a relative’s nearby home, but didn’t because they, too, were without power.

While Lewis Martin was pleased his son and family were unharmed, there was one other casualty from the incident: his above-ground pool.

“My pool didn’t have a hole in it,” he said. “Now it does.”


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