Monday, March 14, 2011

EF2 Tornado in the hood

Late Sunday February 27th into early Monday February 28th, 2011, our neighborhood experienced an EF2 tornado. It baffles me how much and how little damage weather can cause just in one small area.

Behind my home, 2 over to the left a neighbor's home lost the entire roof. The family was in bed and asleep when the parents heard the hellacious winds. At the same time, my husband and I were watching the weather radar and had moved the upstairs sleepers to the basement for safety. When the proverbial "train" came, Hubster and I were in our room upstairs and yet we felt nothing. It was all wind noise. During this same time the 4 neighbors behind us suffered varying degrees of damage. to the right rear, they lost a few fence panel, directly behind they lost a 20 yr old pine -- I believe largely due to the already wet ground. One over to the left had a piece of their fence blow over and some unknown large panel of sorts was lying across another section of it.

Other than wind noise, we heard NOTHING else. We heard no cracking, no crashing, no banging. We looked out our back door and discovered our grills had been blown over, but they were largely unharmed. Other neighbors began to poke heads out and that is when we discovered that the neighbor 2 over had lost their roof! Worse news was that the Mom, had been hurt. As she tells it, the "train" awoke her husband who shouted and jumped out of bed which awoke her. They both ran to the 2 kids bedrooms. 2 boys in each room. Grabbing her 2 little boys she was about to make for the door, when she realized that they were not going to make it to the basement. The wind was lifting the roof off their home and she says she felt herself, holding one kid under each arm, be pulled up and then slam back to the floor. The ceiling to the bedroom fell and landed on her head. She began pulling mattresses over their heads. In all this commotion a roof truss fell in and blocked their exit from the room. When the noises stopped and she realized they were alive, she shouted to see about the other half of her family. They too had all survived. Their dog wriggled in through a spot in the doorway and she and her kids were able to use it to get out.

Heading for the basement only to find it flooded, her husband realized she was bleeding profusely. When the ceiling landed on her, she got quite a laceration to her head. Suddenly, not knowing the extent of the wound made getting her to the local hospital an immediate priority. Going out to load their family into the van to race off, they found that their vehicles were not easily accessible as the garage door had been blown in. Their neighbor heard the shouting and came to see what was happening. Immediately she took charge of the kids and handed over her keys so they could race to the hospital without having to attempt to dig their vehicles from under the debris.

In the end, our neighbor is fine. She had a large area that required stitches, but she will heal and she is alive and well -- albeit emotionally battered. Her family is fine, though the kids are apparently still a bit shell-shocked. The clean-up began first thing the next day with neighbors and family pitching in. Now, they have the beginnings of a new roof, however the entire interior of their home must be gutted to the studs. Adding insult to injury, we had a thunderstorm shortly after the tornado and much was soaked through -- floors, walls and ceilings, not to mention all their belongings and furniture. The strength of the roof lifting off caused  the plumbing stack to shift and as I understand it, that was what caused their basement flood. All the electric and gas lines will need replacing because they aren't positive that things were not compromised by all the shifting. Better safe than sorry I think.

Garage door on top of vehicles and left garage wall gone completely. 
Garage saved from collapse by one lowly 2x4 that managed to hang on through the storm.

Above gutter line, the only things to survive were some of the chimney and the apparently well installed t.v. antenna

Viewed from my backyard, the panel lying on the fence turned out to be the wall of the garage!

2 Neighbors behind us with just fence damage and a felled tree.

Hard to see, but we the next morning, we discovered we had only lost a few shingles on our roof.

Surely in the retelling of this story, I may not have gotten all the details100% correct, but I believe I have gotten them pretty darned close. The most important part is that in the end, all were OK and for that we are all grateful!

We moved to this area in August of 2006. When we bought this house in spring 2007, we had been aware of a tornado that had visited the town  and more specifically this neighborhood. That one ran between our side of our street's homes and those of the street behind us -- essentially following the drainage field that travels between us and the rear neighbors, the beginning of which is visible in the photo of the felled tree. We had to remove the trees from our backyard, because they had been damaged significantly by the storm. At the time of the 2006 storm, it was said there had not been a tornado in this town in about 60 years. Now in the span of 5 years we have had 2 very near to the same location... Go figure.

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