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Severe summer storm hits Towner

Story Photo

Sharon Scott’s rental in Towner.

Story Photo

Sharon Scott’s rental in Towner.

What started out as a normal, somewhat humid, July Friday quickly turned damaging and dangerous as a severe summer storm rolled through Towner around shortly after 10 p.m. on Friday, July 9.  
Towner resident Amy Schmidt was at home with her husband Kelvin when the storm hit. She had received a text message at 9:44 p.m. warning of a severe storm with damaging winds that was expected to hit Chivington, Brandon, and Sheridan Lake, Colorado.
“We heard a big noise,” Schmidt said, “and we think now that it was Bryan’s (Berggren) shop flying apart and blowing into our yard.”
As the lightning flashes lit up the night sky - all power was out by then - a wall of heavy rain that appeared brown swept over Towner and the community received .80 hundredths of moisture in a short amount of time while the wind howled. 
Schmidt credits their tree row for providing protection from other debris flying into the house.
“We had tin and other foreign objects on the yard, but the house was ok.” said Schmidt.
Immediately following the storm, Kelvin, Amy, and other Towner residents headed out to check on their neighbors.
The damaging wind – described as straight-line winds by the National Weather Service in Pueblo - wreaked havoc on grain bins, sheds, augers, garages, antennas, trees, and more.
Randy Carney, who lives in Burlington and farms in the Towner area, was in his camper when the wind caused it to roll over and over.  Fortunately, Carney escaped with only minor injuries.
Schmidt remarked how appreciative she was of Wheatland Electric, whose crew had power up and running between 4 – 5 a.m.
The light of Saturday brought a clear picture of the storm’s destruction.
Several sheds and garages were completely destroyed. Eleven grain bins were pulled from their foundations and found around town in mangled piles of metal. A semi-truck and trailer was picked up and moved 50-100 yards from its original location and when it landed, the truck was jackknifed into the trailer. Equipment was damaged and destroyed as the structures around them blew to pieces. A storage container was lifted from its original location and ended up elsewhere in the yard. Debris from shops, sheds, trailers, trees, and more was found throughout Towner. 
Sharon Scott, who along with her late husband Dick, is well-known for a beautiful Christmas light display, experienced extensive property destruction.  Two garages at a rental property were completely destroyed, a pontoon boat was extensively damaged, and some of the Christmas décor was flattened beyond repair, including two small buildings that were a part of their Christmas village.
Scott remarked that the storm was “a little devastating and naturally, it ended up taking some buildings that weren’t insured.”
Also interesting was comparing what was damaged to what wasn’t. Houses were largely undamaged and right next to a mangled bin or auger would be a similar set-up that was completely unharmed.
On Saturday morning, after taking pictures for insurance companies and while visiting with curious neighbors, cleanup began.
Scott was grateful that no one’s homes were extensively damaged. “For the mess that it was, much of the work was picking up wood and tin from other structures,” and mentioned that she and a neighbor had joked about when they were coming to pick up the other’s property out of their yards.
As Towner residents continue cleaning up the community, all are thankful that no one was seriously injured.
If there was a best part about the storm, Schmidt said, it was how all of the neighbors checked on and looked out for one another. In the storm’s aftermath, friends and neighbors have brought comfort food and reached out to offer assistance.  Kiowa County Road & Bridge workers came over with large equipment in the days following to lend a hand and help clean up debris.
“People have been good to call, to ask what they can do to help,” said Scott. “It’s a nice part of living in a rural community.”

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