Residents shocked by 70 mph winds, damage, crashes

    Amarillo residents react to 70 mph winds and the damage it caused. (ABC 7 Amarillo-Tiffany Lester)

    “The wind was horrible today,” said Amarillo resident Michael Bridges. “I had a rack on top and I thought,’ man this thing is going to blow off. I took her (wife) to lunch and felt like a rollercoaster, I felt like my Tahoe was literally going to get ready to lift up.”

    Bridges and his family tell ABC 7 News Wednesday’s winds were the strongest they have felt blast Amarillo.

    Gusts exceeding 70-miles-per-hour and sustained winds of 40 mph made for dangerous driving conditions throughout the High Plains Wednesday.

    Several semi-trucks rolled over as they traveled down the highways.

    “It was crazy,” said Amarillo resident Rhett Archer. “I know all the power lines were blown down in Amarillo and right outside my house on Tascosa Road, and all these semis blowing over. It’s just crazy.”

    The strong winds uprooted trees and tossed them onto vehicles, homes, and into the street.

    The winds also knocked over power lines and snapped power poles, which left 121,000 customers without power, according to Xcel Energy. As of 10pm Wednesday, that number had been cut to 53,500. Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves said they've called in an additional 25 crews, which is anywhere from 100 to 125 workers, to join the restoration effort Thursday morning.

    Businesses and homes also sustained major damage.

    The Tascosa Drive-In’s screen, entrance way, and fences were broken to pieces.

    The neighboring Extend-A-Suites hotel sign crashed down on the El Patron Tex-Mex Restaurant while patrons ate lunch, damaging the exterior and interior of the building. The business is closed until repairs can be made.

    It is unknown how long that could take.

    “I work in the electrical business and it was super busy today, so I’m expecting tomorrow to be really busy with electrical services repairs,” said Bridges.

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