Winds cause destruction in southern Utah

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CEDAR CITY - Strong winds wreaked havoc in Cedar City, Monday, when trees came down and roofs came up.

Cedar City is sometimes called the “other windy city” because strong winds are felt much of the year. But the gusts Monday did some damage. On the campus of Southern Utah University, 10 trees fell in the wind, causing some students to stop and take notice.

“I walked out of my house today and we had this huge limb that fell off a tree and I thought that was crazy,” said SUU Senior Kent Olsen. “Then I got here and there’s a lot of trees down so it’s even crazier on campus.”

No one was injured when the trees came down and only one building sustained minor damage. But SUU creative media and outreach manager Amy McIff said it’s sad for them, because the university takes pride in the trees.

“These trees are a distinctive feature of our campus,” McIff said. “Some of them are 50 to 80 years old, so it’s sad, but at least no one is hurt.”

Crews were able to take care of smaller trees relatively quickly, but the much larger trees will take some planning to get out and get replaced.

“They’ve roped off a lot of areas that appear to be in jeopardy, that are hazardous,” McIff said. “And then just trying to deal with the downed trees. They’ve already cut up two of them just this morning.”

Across town at the Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses, the wind lived up to its name.

“45 mph sustained winds,” said sanctuary founder Ginger Grimes. “And I think I’ve had it gust up to 65 that I noticed on my little weather station.”

The wind wreaked havoc on the buildings at the horse sanctuary, tearing up the roof on a large barn owned by a neighbor and threatening smaller corrals.

“It’s just making sure I can keep [the horses] in and out of anywhere that the sheet metal doesn’t fly off and slice them, me or any of my volunteers,” Grimes said.

The Dust Devil Ranch cares for neglected and abused horses seized by the Iron County Sheriff’s office. On any given day they have close to 40 under their care. But they’re also a relatively new non-profit organization, so the destruction is a low blow, and one Grimes worries they’ll be able to recover from.

“For 2013, the money is already gone,” Grimes said. “So we have to wait until 2014, but there’s a long gap between today and 2014.

Grimes estimates it costs about $2,000 to take care of the horses between hay and grain, added on that are veterinarian bills and facility upkeep. Grimes said they rely on grants and donations, so it’s unclear how they’ll repair all the damage.

Winds died down by late evening, but by then rain came, and snow in higher elevations. That only adds to the cleanup Grimes now have to deal with.

For more information on the Dust Devil Ranch and their work, visit their website at www.dustdevilranch.org.