BATTLE GROUND — An empty pizza box lay hidden under a stack of broken wood as an American flag flapped in the cold breeze Friday. Shingles were in piles. Fences were in piles. Trampolines looked like piles.
A day after an EF1 tornado struck Battle Ground, the city was mired in the storm’s messy hangover. Tarps topped roofs as the rain continued its weeklong campaign, the sound of chain saws and leaf blowers coming from every corner.
But it was calm where on Thursday was chaos.
“We got fortunate we weren’t hit,” said Becky Gallagher, who was walking her dog alongside tattered fences on Rasmussen Boulevard before noon Friday. According to the city, 36 homes suffered at least some damage, with many more homeowners suffering from damaged fences and outbuildings, or ruined landscaping. No one was reported injured.
David Bezhan, 16, came out and stood where his fence once was.
“I haven’t seen anything like it,” he said.
Along Clark Avenue, the damage was selective.
A few men were on their roofs, assessing what needed to be covered with tarps now and what needs to be covered with insurance later.
“It should be fine. Insurance should cover it, though I have a deductible,” said Jack, who did not give a last name.
Jack’s wife was at home when the storm hit — she hid under a table — but he was driving his bus route when he heard where the tornado was headed: right over his house.
“The fence will be over $1,000, and the roof may have to be replaced, but I can do a lot of the work myself,” he said.
Across town, city crews, contractors, neighbors, volunteers and homeowners took stock of the damage and began to rebuild, albeit slowly.
“No one expected a tornado would hit Battle Ground yesterday. We are thankful there were no injuries,” Mayor Shane Bowman said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate each and every individual and business who, without a bit of hesitation, showed up to assist with the cleanup effort.”
City spokeswoman Bonnie Gilberti said there may not be a full damage estimate for some time, given the scope of the storm.
“Our first priority now is continuing with the cleanup,” she said.
On Friday afternoon, the city announced it would waive permit requirements for siding, roof and fencing repairs to speed the process. Repairing structural damage to homes still will need city approval, however.
The city also worked to provide several containers throughout town to help residents dispose of wood debris.
They are located at Kiwanis Park at 422 Southwest Second Avenue; at Southwest 18th Street at South Parkway; and at Southeast Fifth Avenue at Southwest Rasmussen Boulevard.
Battle Ground Rockery at 917 E. Main St. is accepting wood debris, including fencing and treated wood, for no charge 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Offers of assistance
Meanwhile, private help was being offered around town Friday. Travis Maes walked along Rasmussen Boulevard offering free estimates through his company, Ecobest out of Vancouver.
That company has been around for years, but not all contractors who show up looking to work are legitimate. The state Department of Labor and Industries cautions residents to check to see if contractors are licensed and registered in order to prevent fraud.
“After a tornado, flood, hurricane or other natural disaster, criminals sometimes canvass neighborhoods looking for opportunities to deceive victims in need of cleanup or repair services,” according to a post by American Family Insurance.
Power and utility outages seem to have subsided, though the city said discolored water due to the storm had been reported. It should clear up if residents run their faucets for a short time.
Those with questions about city utilities or looking to report damage to city property can call Battle Ground City Hall at 360-342-5000.