Damage from hail storm surprising
Hail the size of golf balls — and in some cases, tennis balls — wreaked havoc late Thursday night, May 4, when it swept through areas of Madras and Jefferson County, leaving extensive damage in its wake.
Rob Berg, manager of the Madras Municipal Airport and owner of Berg Air, was working late in the south hangar at the airport, when the devastating storm hit around 11 p.m.
"We had winds up to 70 mph, headed northeast," said Berg, who has lived in Madras since 1977, and has never seen such a violent hail storm in Madras. "I've seen them in Texas, but not here. We've never had hail like this before that I know of."
The storm broke out more than 200 of the original windows on the west sides of the historic north and south hangars — which were built in 1943, and each have 660 individual panes of glass on the west sides. The hangars are owned by the city of Madras, but Berg owns the contents.
Six other older buildings at the airport were also damaged, but the General Aviation Building, Erickson Airtanker building, and Erickson Aircraft Collection building were unscathed in the storm.
Among the aircraft in his care, Berg said there were six that were likely totaled, and five others with damage. Even aircraft parked inside the hangars were damaged when the windows were broken out and glass and hail came through.
"There are holes you can put your fist through," he said. "One had 15 holes."
Berg and his wife, Tracy, were up all night sweeping up glass and assessing the damage, which included pitting of the top and sides of their personal vehicles, which were parked at the airport, and a broken windshield in their jet fuel truck and other personal trucks.
"Tracy's personal vehicle probably got totaled," said Berg, who estimated the damage to aircraft and other property at about $400,000, excluding the city's losses on the hangars and city vehicles.
"The older stuff looks like a war zone," he said, noting that runway closures Xs, fire extinguishers, the wind indicator, and the automated weather system were all damaged.
Just west on Cherry Lane, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office suffered damage to vehicles, and Wilbur-Ellis, an agricultural products distributor, had broken windows and damage to siding on a couple buildings, as well as damage to vehicles.
"We had about four or five windows broken on the west side," said Brett Warner, customer service manager. "None of the vehicles lost windows, but the hoods look like golf balls dropped on them."
Charlene Loughlin, who lives on the west side of Madras, was shaken up when the hail broke windows at her house as the storm passed over.
"Just had a hail storm the size of golf balls break two of my windows," Loughlin posted on social media around midnight, shortly after a pane of glass broke onto her bed. "Thanking God the dog got freaked out when it started coming down, because I went into the hallway; the glass from the window that broke would have landed on my head."
Loughlin, whose neighbors helped her board up the windows to keep out the wind and hail, also had damage to her vehicle and her roof, which will need to be replaced.
PayneWest Insurance reported they had gotten their fair share of damage claims.
Agent Martti Rahi said, "It's interesting. It seems to have been in a snake-like path. We'd have a report of severe damage to a house, and a block away there was no damage."
He said the Agency Plains and North Madras areas seemed to be hit harder. Hilltop Lane, where Rahi lives, had no damage, while across the highway on Meadowlark Lane, he said vehicles were damaged.
"We've had 50/50 home claims and vehicle claims. Damages included windows broken out and dimpled cars," he said.
At State Farm Insurance, Jake Waardenburg said, "I haven't done anything but file claims all day."
"It was primarily car damage, and homes with broken windows, vinyl siding damage, and shredded rain gutters," he said, estimating they had over 50 reports come in.
"It seemed to be mainly the West part of town, up on Agency Plains and down through Crooked River Ranch," he said.
In the aftermath of the storm, Berg was grateful for the help he received from city and county crews. "The city public works crews were a big help for us," he said Friday. "The county public works sent us a kick broom (commerical sweeper) and helped today. The Bend chapter of the Civil Air Patrol is coming up Saturday; everybody's been great."