Elisa Montoya’s home in the Taos area was badly damaged and the roof was blown away in last week’s strong storm. (Courtesy Elisa Montoya)
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SANTA FE – Elisa Montoya was soundly asleep at home last week when a disaster struck the Des Montes area north of Taos around 6:30 am.
“All of a sudden we heard the windows shaking, the house actually started shaking, you could hear some hail or something beating against our windows and then the wind got so strong it sucked my stovepipe in from my gas stove,” said Montoya.
She said her son had his arms around her and they were taking shelter in a hallway when the storm hit her home for about 10 horrific minutes.
“When the storm stopped, my son opened the door and our roof was (blown) over a (nearby) power line. …, “She said.” It was a disaster. “
Her home was one of several Taos area homes damaged on December 15 when the violent windstorm hit northern New Mexico, causing widespread power outages, toppling hundreds of trees and destroying planes at Santa Fe Regional Airport.
Elisa Montoya (left) and her daughter Mikaela have become homeless after the violent storm destroyed their home last week. (Courtesy Elisa Montoya)
Montoya, 47, and her sons aged 15 and 16 and daughter 20 are now all sleeping at their parents’ house nearby while she tries to find a place with beds for them.
“My house is not habitable,” said Montoya in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “There are three places in my house where you can look up and see the sky.”
On Wednesday, Montoya was looking for cheap accommodation nearby while worrying about the cost of repairing her home. A contractor told her it would cost $ 30,000 to repair her roof. She said she didn’t have home insurance because she couldn’t afford it.
“My children and I sleep on the floor with my mother because she has no room for all of us,” she said. “I hope I can find something for us, even a little kitchenette or something so that we can have a bed because we’re on the floor.
“I’m not even sure who to turn to.”
Taos County Emergency Management Bureau director Bobby Lucero said he was waiting to see if the governor’s office would approve the county’s disaster statement and if federal funds could be available to help Montoya and others whose homes have been damaged.
Lucero was unclear whether federal funds could be used for private homes.
The governor’s office had not yet received any documents for a disaster declaration, “although the state is ready to help in any way possible and has been in regular contact with the emergency services since the storm began,” said Nora Meyers Sackett, the spokeswoman the governor said in an email on Wednesday.
At least 10 homes have been badly damaged in Taos County, officials said, and the damage is still being assessed.
The American Red Cross has mobilized to help, working with emergency management and the Taos Volunteer Fire Department.
Lucas Brooks, disaster programs specialist for the Santa Fe Red Cross, said Wednesday the organization had provided financial aid to a handful of households, but to qualify they would have to have suffered “great and devastated” damage.
On Thursday, he said Montoya would receive financial support from the Red Cross.
“It’s definitely in the big and ruined category,” said Brooks.
Montoya fears another storm forecast this week will wreak further destruction.
Her father, uncle and others have covered their roof with plastic. Others have gone out of their way to help what they can.
“I am grateful to the people who contacted us,” said Montoya. “We let several people come over … It was nice to have that consolation, to know that people are interested. I got people who gave cards with donations and they offer their help. “
A family member donated money to help her and her children spend a few nights at a motel in Taos.
When asked what Christmas would be like, Montoya replied, “Not good at all. I am of course very grateful that we were not injured. “
But her energy right now is focused on finding a place to stay.