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Storm dodges Chaves County

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Alex Ross Photo Water from two nights of thunderstorms and hail accumulates on the side of State Road 2 in Hagerman late Tuesday afternoon. The community south of Roswell has been the victim of hail and heavy rain Sunday and Monday nights and was girding itself for more Tuesday.

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Southern Chaves County was spared a third night of heavy rain and hail after has punishing rural areas of the county Sunday and Monday nights.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque allowed a severe thunderstorm watch that had been issued Tuesday afternoon to expire at 9 p.m. for Chaves, Lincoln and Roosevelt counties. The thunderstorm watch had been issued earlier in the day for much of the southeastern part of the state.

Jim Tucker, Chaves County National Weather Skywarn coordinator, said at 8 p.m., Tuesday, that some storm activity was identified in the northernmost part of Eddy County, moving northeast toward Lea County and largely missing Chaves County.

“So it is moving away from Dexter and Hagerman,” Tucker said. He added that another storm system could still hit the county overnight but they would not know until morning.

Justin Powell, chief of Dexter Fire & Rescue, said that while there were some strong winds that came through, there was nothing “too intense.”

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Alex Ross Photo
The top window is broken in the Hagerman Historical Museum Tuesday after two days of heavy hail and rain that caused damage to buildings and vehicles in Hagerman.

This likely comes as a relief for residents of Hagerman, which were pummeled by hailstones 2 and 3 inches in diameter and considerable flooding Tuesday night, which broke windows and inflicted damage on vehicles and building structures within the town.

Rochelle Bateman, Hagerman Police Chief, said late Tuesday afternoon that most Hagerman residents were affected by the hail damage whether it be damaged or collapsed roofs, broken windows or vehicle damage.

Some streets still had signs of water damage with a large pool of rainwater collected at Morgan Street and Oxford. Many homes on Morgan Street had been flooded the night before and residents were still working to pump out water, Bateman said.

Bateman estimated that at least six families had been displaced because their homes were seriously damaged, but no official count exists or tally has been taken of homes.

“We haven’t even begun to assess the damage. We are just working to seal everything up and get this over,” she said.

Bateman added some people have been told by insurance companies that their homes are now uninhabitable, but they are remaining in them anyway.

Monday and Tuesday, volunteers gathered in the parking lot of the Hagerman/Dexter J.O.Y. Center on West Argyle to distribute plywood, sandbags and buckets to those seeking to stave off further damage to their property.

Monday night’s storm was widely seen as less harsh than the one that battered Hagerman the night before.

Alyssa Clements of the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said that while a tornado warning had been in effect for Chaves County, the National Weather Service did not receive any confirmed reports of a tornado.

The storm, which originated in Lincoln County, had traveled along U.S. 380 and veered south of Roswell and then weakened. Clements said there were some reports of hail an inch in diameter southwest of Dexter and wind speeds of up 70 mph in Hagerman.

She said a tin shed in Hagerman was reported destroyed.

The possibility exists for additional scattered thunderstorms Thursday, Clements said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.  

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