Canoncito, NM Tornado Damage, Oct 1974


Canoncito, N.M. (AP) -- Families began returning to this tiny settlement on the Navajo Reservation today following an apparent tornado that killed a 2-week-old baby girl and demolished at least four homes.
Officials said eight persons were injured when the funnel shaped cloud ripped through the village at about 3 p.m. Thursday.
The dead infant was identified as CHARLOTTE BLAKE. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Albuquerque's Bernaillio County Medical Center.
Her mother, GERRI BLAKE, 20, and TOMMY GUERRO, 20, were admitted to BCMC with possible internal injuries, BCMC officials said. Six others were treated and released.
One Canoncito resident, silversmith TONY GARCIA, said the tornado sounded like "20,000 jets coming through here. I never saw anything that tore up like this and I hope I never see it again."
Residents said the devastating cloud bounced down the grass hillside that overlooks the settlement about 24 miles west of Albuquerque. It cleared a 20 yard wide path through the cluster of houses and mobile homes.
The winds lifted three mobile homes and carried them more than 20 yards before dropping jumbles of tangled metal and broken glass. One house was demolished.
"It got real dark," GARCIA said. "I saw this trailer flying apart. I ran out to see what had happened to the people who were inside the trailer. I saw that they were hurt and I tried to comfort them."
FANNY SANDOVAL said she was sitting in her home with her brother and another woman, when the room suddenly became dark.
"We were running round, not knowing what to do," she said. "Then suddenly the roof came off and the wind scattered our things all over the place. I did not see the tornado, but the wind came over us like an explosion."
Debris of the structures and the possessions they contained was scattered along the apparent tornado's path for half a mile.
GARCIA said his home was about 200 yards from the twister's path and was not seriously damaged. He said the winds killed a number of sheep about a mile from the village.
Another resident said the Canoncito Community School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs Elementary School located about 1 1/2 miles from the settlement, was filled with children when the funnel cloud hit Cononcito. It was untouched by the winds.
"It's lucky the kids were in school," the resident said.
THe Canoncito Chapter House, center of community government, also was undamaged.
Navajo Police said they were remaining at the community to watch over the damaged homes.
The National Weather Service in Albuquerque said tornados are "very rare, both for that section of the state and this month of the year."
The Weather Service said today it could not positively state whether the wind storm was a tornado.
The spokesman said, "A pilot near Socorro reported that a tornado touched down twice" in the area at midafternoon.
Canoncito school teacher JOE RILEY said the funnel cloud looked "llike a giant tumbleweed rolling down a hill."
Other residents sid the winds were perceded by hail the size of golf balls.

Hobbs Daily News-Sun New Mexico 1974-10-11