WASHINGTON TERRACE, Weber County — As emergency officials continued Friday to add up the damage caused by a destructive tornado in Washington Terrace, the massive cleanup also got underway.
As of Friday afternoon, 21 homes in Weber County — primarily in Washington Terrace, Riverdale and South Ogden — were determined to be "uninhabitable" because of major structural damage, and building inspectors were still counting, said Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Nate Hutchinson.
About a dozen of those homes are total losses, Hutchinson said.
"The damage is so extensive that we're talking major, major overhaul just to get them back up and working. Some of them are without roofs, or have shifted off their foundations," he said.
The total damage from Thursday's storm, Hutchinson said, was expected to grow into the millions.
"We're looking at well over $1.5 million at this point, and to be honest, I think that's going to be pretty low," he said.
That early estimate is based on homes "that will need major renovations," and not the hundreds of others that suffered some type of property damage. It also doesn't include cars and other vehicles damaged in the storms, Hutchinson said.
"Most of these cars are total losses. We've had cars tipped over. We had one camping trailer picked up and moved several houses in the air and landed in the neighbor's yard down the street," he said.
Weber County Emergency Management Services has been in contact with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin the process of applying for federal aid, Hutchinson said.
On Friday afternoon, Gov.Gary Herbert walked through neighborhoods that suffered the worst devastation. He called the scene "a little bit stunning."
"We're not used to tornadoes," Herbert said, calling the "sporadic" damage in the neighborhoods "kind of unsettling."
Herbert praised county and city officials, saying the response to the disaster was fast and thorough.
"I came here expecting to see a lot of debris, kind of a war zone, that we've seen at other times," he said. "I come here and it's mostly all cleaned up. And so it just tells me that the people in charge here are really doing good things."
The governor said disasters frequently bring communities closer together.
"It gives us an opportunity as people to serve our neighbors," Herbert said.
Cleanup was also underway Friday in southern Utah, where the National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado with 110 mph winds ravaged a 25-yard area in Garfield County near Panguitch, causing heavy damage to several structures and minor damage to several more homes.
Yardley Insurance Agency, 609 N. Main, Panguitch, was the hardest hit. A house next to it also suffered damage when the roof from the insurance business was blown off.
"It pretty well touched down here and wiped us out for the time being. But honestly, we feel mighty blessed because it could have been worse," owner John Yardley said.
In northern Utah, Thursday's tornado initially touched down in the southwest section of Washington Terrace and moved northeast. A five-block area from about 5200 South on 50 West to 4700 South and 300 West was hardest hit, Hutchinson said.
From there, the tornado "skipped like a rock," he said, leaving the ground and touching down again in the 4600 block of 200 East.
"It really took a toll on the homes in that neighborhood," he said.
Approximately 50 residents were evacuated Thursday night either because of damage or for safety precautions because of a teetering tree or power pole that could fall, or a gas leak.
Of the 21 homes that were determined to be uninhabitable, Hutchinson said, "it's gonna be awhile" before those people will be able to return to their homes.
In Riverdale, a couple of mobile homes were blown over and destroyed by the wind, he said.
Most of the 50 displaced residents stayed with other family members Thursday night, Hutchinson said. The Red Cross put up four families in local hotels.
Other areas of Weber and Davis counties also suffered damage from strong winds associated from the storm front. The National Weather Service recorded a gust of 81 mph in South Ogden on Thursday, and 101 mph at Ogden Peak.
Hutchinson said "dozens" of extra sheriff's deputies began patrolling those neighborhoods Thursday night and would continue to do so until further notice to deter potential looters.
The Weber County Landfill, he said, is accepting all green items for free while the cleanup effort is ongoing.
Although a tornado did not hit Antelope Island, the storm produced strong enough winds that the roof of a barn was blown off. Fielding Garr Ranch, which survived a wildfire in July, will be closed until further notice, according to Utah State Parks officials, because of damage caused to several structures.
"The ranch will reopen after park staff have assessed the situation and determined it is once again safe," the Park Service said in a prepared statement.
The damage forced at least four school closures Friday: Bonneville High School, T.H. Bell Junior High, Washington Terrace Elementary and Roosevelt Elementary. Hutchinson said the schools were closed mainly for safety, particularly for students who would have had to walk through the tornado-ravaged neighborhoods to get there. But he expected all schools to be open again Monday.
At the height of the storm, approximately 38,000 people were without power in Davis and Weber counties. By late Friday night, approximately 1,130 customers remained without power in Ogden, South Ogden, South Weber, Riverdale and Washington Terrace. And about 930 customers were without power in Clearfield, Clinton, Hooper, Layton, Syracuse and West Point.
“We still have lines going down, poles catching on fire, and there’s just a lot of cleanup," said Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Paul Murphy.
There was no time estimate as to when power would be fully restored to all customers, Murphy said. Extra crews were being brought in from Wyoming and Idaho to help fix the damaged lines, he said.
The power outage indirectly contributed to a mobile home fire in Clearfield about 9:10 a.m. Friday when a generator being used to power the home caught fire. The fire was determined to be accidental, though the mobile home likely is a total loss, fire officials said.
Emergency officials say despite the widespread damage, they were extremely thankful that no major injuries were reported. Hutchinson said there was one report of a resident who suffered a broken arm, and another report of a person who suffered a foot injury when a car he was standing next to was lifted by the tornado and landed on his foot.
Contributing: Shara Park, McKenzie Romero, Mike Anderson, Brianna Bodily, Sam Penrod, Ben Lockhart