Tornadoes that touched down south of Roswell late Tuesday have devastated the community of Dexter.
Entrances and exits into the town of Dexter were closed off to any non-residents as of about 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington.
The tornadoes touched down south of Roswell at about 6 p.m., when two funnel clouds were spotted east of mile marker 81 on Highway 285, east of Hagerman.
Shortly thereafter, another tornado was reported in Dexter.
Though the weather cleared up a short time later, the brief storm led to significant damage in the communities of Dexter and Hagerman, where the tornadoes touched down.
On social media, people shared pictures and videos of roofs ripped off from buildings, and debris in the streets from the high winds. According to the National Weather Service, the winds were 31 miles per hour with wind gusts of 40 miles per hour shortly before 6 p.m. in Chaves County.
Five people were transported to area hospitals with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries, Herrington said.
He added that at least 10 homes on Elford Avenue in Dexter were destroyed, and several barns were knocked over.
The American Red Cross has opened a temporary shelter for those displaced by the tornadoes in a gymnasium at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.
Justin Powell, fire chief with Dexter Fire & Rescue, said Tuesday night that at least 20 electric poles and lines were down in Dexter and several sprinkler pivots were lifted by the high winds and thrown into various roads.
Powell added that, in at least one dairy, several hundred head of cattle were lost and that the dairy itself sustained extensive damage.
Dexter and Hagerman are both without electricity, according to Herrington. As of 6:07 p.m., 339 customers from Hagerman were without electricity, but crews were working to restore power as soon as possible, according to Xcel Energy.
The water system that services Hagerman was also destroyed, leaving the community without water, Powell added.
Herrington said that in addition to the regular units that patrol the areas, another four deputies will patrol Dexter along with six units from the New Mexico State Police. Dexter and Hagerman police officers are also patrolling the areas.
According to the National Weather Service, there is a high wind warning beginning around 6 a.m. and will continue throughout the day for Chaves County.
More coverage of the tornado and its aftermath will be in Thursday’s edition of the Roswell Daily Record.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.