Residents coming home to Atrium Garden Condominiums had no idea they were returning to a battle zone.
But that was what it looked like after a Friday night storm whipped through the apartments near Pecos Road and Washington Avenue, uprooting trees, shutting off power, exposing gas lines and wreaking havoc on the quiet neighborhood.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening,” said Walter Davis, a 14-year resident who opted to stay in his apartment through the chaos. “It looked like some kind of tornado. I couldn’t see across the street.”
The storm, measured with 71 mph winds at Nellis Air Force Base, drove residents of the entire complex out of their homes when a gas line broke. Police evacuated the area, and the American Red Cross set up a shelter at nearby Desert Pines High School on Washington Avenue and Sandhill Road.
Davis stayed home because the Red Cross doesn’t shelter pets, and he didn’t want to leave his puppy home alone.
Dave Hayes, a six-year resident, went to the shelter, leaving behind his goldfish.
All but one survived the ordeal.
“One little goldfish died,” he said. “The rest were OK.”
Hayes spent part of Sunday taping the rear window to his car after tree branches took up residence in his back seat.
The car next to his was not so lucky, as a giant pine rests on the flattened backseat.
“My car was parked next to that one,” Hayes said. “His car saved mine.”
Uprooted pines littered the parking lots and leaned against houses in the aftermath of the storm. The gently wafting scent of pine needles added a soothing element to the destruction all around.
“This looks a thousand times better than it was,” Hayes said of the cleanup effort. “So many of these trees are ripped up, it’s incredible.”
The storm Saturday night brought more wind and rain into the area, but after the carnage on Friday night, residents were barely fazed.
“After this, it was light,” Hayes said, shrugging off Saturday’s storm. “I was inside (Friday night). I thought all these crackling sounds I heard was all thunder, instead of trees.”
Hayes’ son Jason Leitch spent Saturday with his father in the Red Cross shelter, returning home on Sunday when their building regained power.
“I knew it was bad when we were here yesterday, and the firefighters were taking their own photos,” Leitch said. “The police too, with their own phones, not official. That’s how you knew it was bad.”
Davis took the time Sunday to replace his windshield wipers, grateful that his car was unscathed by the brutal gusts.
“I’m one of the blessed ones who didn’t have a tree fall down,” he said.
His apartment also survived the fierce winds and rain, but he is living without water, power or gas.
“They tried to get us to go over there,” Davis said of the shelter. “I got to do what I got to do to survive. If I can help myself, I’ll help myself.”
Panfilo Carrillo was not as lucky as Davis. He relocated after a tree added a new, unwelcome sunroof in his house during the storm he nicknamed “The Destroyer.”
“The one piece (of the tree) is coming inside,” he said pointing at the branches poking through his roof. “When it was this, I was here.”
There is a silver lining to this bout of monsoonal weather.
More rain is expected through Tuesday and again at the end of the week.
With that rain comes a welcome breeze of cooler air, lightening the strain of triple-digit temperatures.
Highs in the high-to-mid 90s are expected today, as more thunderstorms are expected to cool down the late afternoon and evening.
Saturday night’s storm also brought high winds and rains to Henderson, where gauges measured over an inch of rain and gusts up to 70 mph, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Stan Czyzyk.
Pahrump had wind speeds of 86 mph, strong enough to send a picnic bench flying over a car, Czyzyk said.
The torrential downpour that began with a vengeance Friday night washed over the valley, setting a record rainfall of 0.22 inches, beating the 1951 record of 0.17 inches.
Saturday night’s storm was not as momentous at McCarran International Airport, with a rainfall of 0.03 inches.
“It’s somewhat rare that we get two nights in a row of storm weather,” Czyzyk said. “It is typical of monsoon season though.”
There were no major road closures, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol, and Henderson police did not have an unusual number of calls, despite the weather.
“There were several reports of damages done by wind,” Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul said. “There was normal street flooding. No critical incidents.”
One of the wind related casualties from Friday night was the Gold Coast sign, which took a beating from the heavy gusts.
“We’re still evaluating the damage,” Boyd Gaming spokesman David Strow said.
A full assessment and repairs will be done after the debris is cleared early this week, he said.
Clark County Fire Department personnel responded to seven weather related calls Saturday night, but no serious incidents.
And Las Vegas Fire Department officials reported that there were no incidents Saturday night, even when the storm was most intense.
Although the rain relieves the valley of triple-digit temperatures, it brings with it a lack of power.
Throughout the valley 1,000 people were without electricity Sunday morning after rolling blackouts caused thousands more power outages over the weekend.
“We never expect outages, but with storms like that, it just happens,” NV Energy spokeswoman Kelley Mulroy said.
Many of the outages were caused by downed power poles, which have to be replaced before power could be restored, she said.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the Spring Mountains were placed on a flood watch through this evening.
The rain was absent from Trout and Kyle canyons, where the Carpenter 1 Fire remains at 95 percent containment, but precipitation was seen further down the mountain at Harris Springs, according to officials monitoring conditions on the mountain.
There were no problems with runoff or flash flooding associated with the fire, information officer Jon Kohn said.
Type III incident response teams remain in the area and continue work to rehabilitate the area to prevent water runoff.
The mountain is susceptible to flash floods and runoff because of the lack of growth caused by the fire that raged across the landscape for more than two weeks.
Contact Rochel Leah Goldblatt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0381.