Wallowa residents plead for help after devastating damage from hailstorm

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 1:19 PM PDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2022 at 1:20 PM PDT
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WALLOWA, Ore. (KPTV) - In the eastern Oregon town of Wallowa, the damage from a major hailstorm on Aug. 11 is extensive. There are cars throughout town with entire windshields shattered apart. Almost every house in town has some sort of plywood over broken windows.

The day started out like any other for homeowner Chance Goebel.

“Kind of a numb feeling,” Goebel said. “You didn’t really know what to feel.”

Goebel was working at home as he recovers from foot surgery. That’s when he got word of the serious storm heading towards town.

“I found out on Facebook,” he said. “I came outside, pulled my pickup halfway into the shop, and I just stood out on the back porch and watched it come.”

What he didn’t know was some of the hail stones unleashed would be as big as baseballs.

“From under the carport, it was loud enough that I couldn’t hear the windows breaking in my house,” Goebel said.

Goebel has a lot of work ahead of him. He lost siding, has dents and broken windows in his new pickup truck and a roof leak caused water to rush onto his coffee table.

Mayor Gary Hulse said they’ve never had anything that left this much damage to pick up across town. But the city did the best it could right after.

“On the first part, we worked specifically on residential homes because there were so many of them with windows out of them,” Hulse said.

Among the most serious damage:

· Numerous car windshields smashed out

· A tree that came down through the middle of a house

· Siding and windows broken at the old Methodist church

· Holes punched right through a shelf at the town’s library

No one died during the storm. There was just one serious injury reported to an elderly woman.

Wallowa city administrator Carolyn Harshfield said people in town still need a lot of help.

“They’re like, ‘How am I going to get this fixed, or what am I supposed to do? How am I going to meet my deductible?’ Or, ‘I don’t have insurance.’”

Federal and state emergency assistance may be difficult because the total damage might just not meet minimums.

With winter looming, Goebel is concerned for others that can’t get help from insurance.

“We do have pretty hard winters here and just having plywood on the windows isn’t going to be enough,” he said.

There is city property that is estimated to have about $1 million in damage. City leaders said they want to focus on getting the residents back on their feet first and then turn their attention to city property.

Anyone who wants to help can donate to the Wallowa Storm Fund at Community Bank in Joseph at (541) 432-9050. You can also buy “Wallowa Strong” merchandise here.