Kings County Hit Hard by Wind

January 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Like a shredder tears through paper, winds ripped through homes, schools and even planes.Twisted wreckage is all that's left of what used to be a glider plane at the Central California Soaring Club Instructional School in Avenal.

But heavy winds over the weekend destroyed any chance of it flying again.

"It made me sick when I saw that glider like that. It was just discouraging, very discouraging," said Harold Gallagher, flight instructor.

Flight Instructor Harold Gallagher found out Friday just how bad the damage to his plane really was.

Gallagher says a Cal-Trans worker saw the wreck as it happened. The wind was so powerful it ripped the glider from its cables attached in the ground.

"And the glider was pulled up in the air about 50-60 ft. And then backwards over the highway and then tumbled into the school yard on the other side of Highway 33.

Gallagher isn't the only person who experienced loss over the weekend because of wind damage.

Shingles were torn from roofs all over town. A trampoline was bent in half and trees snapped like toothpicks.

City Councilmember Sid Craighead says Avenal High School experienced at least $500-k in damages because of the powerful wind.

"If we had a lot more rain it would have been a lot more damage. After the roofs came off it would have been a lot of water leakage."

A car port crashed on an R.V.

"It's not anybody's fault except Mother Nature and that's the way it goes," said Alex Nelson, resident.

And Gallagher didn't just lose his $10-k glider. A hangar under construction was also destroyed.

"It's amazing because there were no flat surfaces on this hangar, yet the wind was so strong that it blew it down," said Gallagher.

Gallagher's plane wasn't the only one in the town destroyed by wind. A privately owned plane was also wrecked.

Gallagher's glider was next to four others just like it at the school. Amazingly those four were untouched.

The flight school is waiting to see if insurance will cover the damage experienced.


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