Tornado doesn’t slow seniors

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Not even a tornado can stop a group of Clovis senior citizens from their dance and social programs.

That’s what Baxter-Curren Senior Center Program Coordinator Brenda Hankins learned after a March 23 tornado temporarily robbed them of their social hub.

She said the programs have been scattered to the library, Clovis Community College and the Farmer’s Co-op while the seniors wait for their center to be repaired, Hankins said.

With socializing such a critical element in the health of seniors, Hankins was concerned members would not be getting out when she realized the center would not be operational for some time.

To her delight, members have continued to attend activities, some even traveling as far as Muleshoe, where the only facility could be found for them to dance.

“They’re attending activities again and still going strong. They’re all pretty remarkable people, my seniors,” Hankins said.

In need of a new roof, windows, carpeting, ceiling tiles and more, the center is being repaired, Hankins said, and should be back in business in about three months.

“There’s a little bit of impatience, but for the most part they’re pretty good about it — they’re just anxious to get back in their routines and go on,” she said.

Vee Lucas, director of the Older Adults Division, said she goes by to check the progress at least twice a day, “because the seniors want to know and as soon they ask me, I want to have an answer for them.”

She said she can’t wait to see the center open and thriving again.

“They’re all OK and they want back in their center to dance and have fun and I’m going to see to it they get what they want,” she said.

Louise Snell said she has been active at the center for years as was her mother before her. Since the tornado, the 88-year-old said she has not been going to activities because she doesn’t get around so well and the center was convenient for her.

She said even without the center, she doesn’t allow herself to get bored. “I have a little trouble walking but my mind still waltzes, and honey do I dance,” she said, laughing.

When the center reopens, Snell said she will be there.

“My mother was a part of that place — I have a very tender spot for that place,” she said.

By the numbers

50 — years the center has been open, making it the oldest established senior center in the state.

54 — Seniors attending a dance, huddled in a hallway during the tornado while the ceiling collapsed on them. There was only one minor injury.

2,000 — Activities scheduled by the center in a given month.

$1,370 — Approximate amount donated to the center by senior centers in Taos and Los Alamos.

$77,000 — The approximate cost of damages to the Baxter-Curren center, being paid for with insurance funds and some disaster relief.