Granjeno bears brunt of thunderstorm damage

GRANJENO — Mother Nature hit the sleepy town of Granjeno with a vengeance Tuesday night — on the eve of hurricane season.

GRANJENO — Mother Nature hit the sleepy town of Granjeno with a vengeance Tuesday night — on the eve of hurricane season.

A slow-moving thunderstorm complex created a nightmare for residents in the small community near the U.S.-Mexico border. Heavy rain and wind gusts of up 80 to 85 miles per hour wreaked havoc on homes, trees, power lines and the city’s event facility, which is now missing its west wall.

Granjeno, which has a population of just over 300, was abuzz Wednesday with volunteers working hard under a hot sun to clear the mess left behind by the storms. Dozens of local officials, law enforcement officers, insurance adjusters and public works employees, among others, lined the city’s two main streets — each carrying out a different duty.

Most residents seemed shell-shocked, walking around trying to clear brush and debris from their homes. Others sat in circles outside their homes.

Ruben Alvarado, 21, was busy helping neighbors salvage as many belongings as possible Wednesday afternoon. The Army specialist came home to see his family before being deployed to Kuwait later this month. He arrived in time to see it all fall apart.

Alvarado was about to cozy up and watch a movie with his brother when the storm began to kick in about 11 p.m. Tuesday. Lightning, thunder and rain began bearing down on their home.

“All of a sudden the lights started flickering on and off and we started to lose power,” he said. “And it just started getting worse.”

A curious Alvarado went into the living room to peer out a window to check the weather.

“The minute I turned around, the glass just breaks open and wind and water start coming into the house,” Alvarado said. “I remember I just hit the floor right then and there because the blast hit the back of my head. It was very unexpected.”

Moments later, he ran to his parents’ room, where his mother and two-year-old niece were in. Soon all the windows in the house were breaking; he and his father decided the bathroom was the safest room in the house.

“So we laid them on the tub and put blankets over them so they could be safe,” he said about his mom and niece.

For a second, the storm seemed to have stopped, Alvarado said.

“And all of a sudden, the next thing you know it we heard a loud bang, and the door just flew clean straight off and hit the wall,” the 21-year-old said. “And it flew all the way over there and then the whole roof came off. And it got all windy and everything started to fly everywhere.”

Alvarado ran to his brother’s room to take cover, but he soon realized it was just as dangerous there as the living room, where a portion of the roof had blown off.

“The minute I could, I ran to the bathroom,” he said.

His whole family weathered the storm there.

Wednesday came as a rude awakening for Alvarado, who believes the home is no longer salvageable. His family packed what little they could and reached out to the Red Cross for assistance with temporary housing. The Red Cross was able to place his mother, father, brother and niece at a motel, but the Army specialist didn’t know where he would stay the night Wednesday.

He worries about leaving his family behind during his deployment, but duty calls, he said.

“I was just glad that at least I was here with them when it happened instead of me being gone already,” Alvarado said.