Storm tears through cotton gin, causes millions in damage

Matt Toste surveyed the damage at the Westside Growers Co-Op cotton seed barn. It was blown away by a storm Monday evening. 

Matt Toste was in disbelief as he toured Westside Growers Co-op Cotton Gin in Tranquillity Tuesday afternoon.

“You can send all the pictures you want,” he says. “But until you see it in person, it’s a mangled mess. Like a bomb went off.”

A strong storm Monday tossed the co-op’s seed barn like a rag doll, picking it up and tossing it at least 60 feet.

“It ripped the bolts off the ground,” said Toste.

“That sounded like a bomb when it went down,” said Jose Gamboa.

Gamboa has a house on the gin’s property, and was there when the storm hit.

“I ain’t gonna lie to you—and probably everyone is going to laugh at me—but I yelled for my dad,” Gamboa said.

His home also took a beating.

It tore down his fence, tore shingles off his roof, blew out windows and sent his carport flying.

Even his dog ran away.

It returned hours later.

“What can we do?” Gamboa said, shaking his head. “Mother nature.”

Toste also tried to take it in stride.

But the timing, makes this tough.

“It wouldn’t be as bad if cotton season wasn’t around the corner,” Toste said.

The cotton industry is bouncing back from the drought.

Production is expected to double this year, because of the wet winter.

Now, it’s a matter of clearing the debris and rebuilding.

The season is just four to five weeks away.

“This could have gotten really ugly, really fast with employees here,” Toste said.

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