Tornado Damages Fairfax Homes, Businesses

Monday, October 8th 2018, 6:27 pm
By: News On 6

The National Weather Service said a high-end EF-0 tornado hit Fairfax with winds around 85 miles per hour on Sunday.

Almost 24 hours after the storm hit, a lot of work is still ahead for the residents of Fairfax.

Doug Bertrum was inside his home as the storm hit.

10/8/2018 Related Story: Fairfax Cleans Up After Sunday Tornado

"I didn't think it was gonna be that bad until it blew the air conditioner through the window and I thought, 'Oh my God, that's a lot of wind,” he said.

He went outside to survey the damage and spent all Monday cleaning up outside his home.

"It's a mess. All the fences are down in the yards and everything. The insurance adjuster is here now, I'm hoping he comes up with a good settlement," Bertrum said.

Bertrum and many others in Fairfax said the tornado alarms never sounded.

"They have to have the power to sound them. There was no warning. The same thing happened in May, there was no warning then either," said volunteer firefighter Travis Shields.

The National Weather Service said the tornado hit too quickly, touching down and lifting within a couple blocks of Main Street.

"It was very short-lived and actually formed in town as far as we can tell, so when that happens you don't get to track it into town and alert citizens, you have something to the southwest,” said Steven Piltz with the National Weather Service. “It happens right on top of their head and very quickly.”

The town is no stranger to storms. Bertrum just fixed the roof in his shop after strong winds came through over the summer.

"It was just last Friday I got a contract out to fix that,” he said. Now this…can't win."

Many business owners said they don't have insurance and they are worried what the storm means for the future of their town.

"I heard it hit Main Street and I was checking on the barber shop to see how bad it got here," said Geryl Bevil.

The barber shop has been in Fairfax since the early 1900s and Bevil and his wife have owned it for the last 45 years.

His shop, along with many buildings along Main Street were in the direct path of the tornado.

"An old wives tail is - there's Salt Creek there, and the river is there, so a tornado would never hit Fairfax. But that's an old wives tale I guess," Bevil said.

Like most business owners, the Bevil's don't have insurance.

"Most people here with old buildings have no insurance, so we're just gonna have to eat it," Linda Bevil said. "And I can't cut enough hair to have a roof put on."

White the town focuses on cleaning up, many wonder what the future holds for the historic Main Street.

Bevil: "I'm 72 years old, I've done all I can do."
Meagan: "But you're gonna reopen the shop?"
Bevil: "I don't know."

Even though there is quite a bit of damage, no one was seriously hurt.