Tor­nado leaves path of de­struc­tion on KI

Record Observer - - News - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — Mem­bers of the Kent Is­land Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment were on the scene within min­utes fol­low­ing the de­struc­tive tor­nado that touched down at 1:29 a.m. Mon­day, July 24, in the Bay City com­mu­nity. The tor­nado moved into the Bay City com­mu­nity di­rectly along Chenowith Drive and moved at a north­east­erly di­rec­tion across Kent Is­land from there. Torn and bro­ken tree tops show the di­rect path the tor­nado took, oc­ca­sion­ally com­ing down atop sev­eral peo­ples homes.

The first home to be de­stroyed was that of long­time res­i­dent Louis Salano at the cor­ner of Chenowith Drive and Zaidee Lane. The tor­nado ap­pears to have landed on his house, pulling the roof com­pletely off and de­posit­ing it about 100 feet away in a small wooded area next to his prop­erty. With­out the roof, the walls of Salano’s one-floor home col­lapsed. His car, parked in the drive­way was not moved, still there af­ter the storm moved on. Salano was in the house at the time. He was the only per­son to be taken to the emer­gency cen­ter nearby to be treated fol­low­ing the storm and was re­leased later Mon­day morn­ing.

From there, the storm moved down the street, just a few hun­dred feet to the home of Don and Jes­sica Tester­man, lift­ing the huge two-story home off its foun­da­tion. Jes­sica Tester­man was in­side the home with her chil­dren. She said, “I won­dered, as the house moved — are we in the air?” The front right cor­ner of the house ap­peared to have moved off the foun­da­tion some 20 feet to­ward the back­yard.

Stand­ing in front of the house Mon­day morn­ing, Jes­sica said, “They’re com­ing to tear the house down. It’s a to­tal loss we’ve been told.” She said she felt for­tu­nate that none of them were killed.

Both Salano and the Tester­mans are mem­bers of the Kent Is­land Elks, Lodge 2576, in Stevensville. Upon re­ceiv­ing word that both their homes were de­stroyed, KI Elks Ex­alted Ruler An­gela Meyer is­sued im­me­di­ate $1,000 checks to both from the Elks “Stand­ing Re­lief Fund” to as­sist with per­sonal ex­penses. Meyer did this be­fore 10:30 a.m. Mon­day.

As the storm con­tin­ued through Bay City, it next de­stroyed the home of Mark and Nancy French, two blocks away from the Tester­mans’ home. The tor­nado took off al­most the en­tire sec­ond floor, pil­ing part of the roof onto the car of Carol Joyner, whose car was parked next door at the home of her par­ents, Mel and Sarah Fones. The de­bris to­taled Joyner’s ve­hi­cle where it sat.

Sarah Fones said of her neigh­bors’ ex­pe­ri­ence, “It’s a mir­a­cle the Frenches sur­vived. The tor­nado de­stroyed ev­ery bed­room in their house ex­cept the one they had been sleep­ing in!”

From the tree tops, it ap­pears the tor­nado went up Route 18, com­pletely wip­ing out Farmer John’s pro­duce stand and a huge 100-year-plus oak tree near it be­fore cross­ing over U.S. Route 50/301 where the tor­nado took down sev­eral heavy-duty trans­former power-lines along Route 8 near Stevensville Mid­dle School. At that point, the tor­nado ap­pears to have dis­si­pated. The path of the tor­nado was es­ti­mated by the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice to be two miles.

Kent Is­land Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment fire­fighter Dave “Pops” Gellert was among the first in Bay City im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the tor­nado be­fore 2 a.m. He said, “I saw a lot of shocked peo­ple com­ing out of their homes as we came down the streets. They didn’t know what was go­ing on.”

He added, “About 20 years ago we had a hur­ri­cane come through, but it was not as bad as this.”

Dam­age to res­i­dences was re­ported in the El­len­dale and An­chor­age com­mu­ni­ties as well. And trees and util­ity poles were dam­aged all across the Is­land.

Some util­ity poles were bent, others snapped off, and wires were ev­ery­where along Route 18.

Trees lit­tered the yard of for­mer County Com­mis­sioner Mike and Nancy Ko­val in Ch­ester, but their home es­caped un­scathed.

A mas­sive tree at Don and Kathy Trot­ter’s house fell onto their car, rip­ping off the mir­ror and smash­ing the wind­shield.

Sim­i­lar re­ports came from across Kent Is­land.

Wind dam­age was also re­ported in Gra­sonville.

Mary­land Lt. Gover­nor Boyd Ruther­ford ar­rived at Bay City at 9:30 a.m. Mon­day, tak­ing an over­head tour of the de­struc­tion via Mary­land State Po­lice he­li­copter. He then went by ground ve­hi­cle to meet res­i­dents and see de­struc­tion up close.

Im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing his tour, Ruther­ford said, “Con­sid­er­ing this is one of the most densely pop­u­lated com­mu­ni­ties on Kent Is­land, we’re for­tu­nate that no one was killed!”

This aerial photo shows tor­nado dam­age in the El­len­dale com­mu­nity.

PHOTO BY JA­SON VO­GEL

The re­mains of a row boat can be seen among the bro­ken trees in Bay City.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

To the left, Mel and Sarah Fones look back to­ward their Bay City home, Mon­day morn­ing, fol­low­ing a tor­nado that touched down at 1:30 a.m. To the right, the con­demned home of their neigh­bors, Mark and Nancy French. Part of the Frenches’ home landed on Carol Joyner’s car (the Fones daugh­ter), to­tal­ing the ve­hi­cle. Though the tor­nado caused mas­sive de­struc­tion, only one in­jury was re­ported.

A dam­aged garage door and spilled trash cans show ev­i­dence of high winds in An­chor­age.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Dur­ing a quickly con­vened press con­fer­ence Mon­day morn­ing, July 24, in the tor­nado dev­as­tated com­mu­nity of Bay City on Kent Is­land, Lt. Gover­nor Boyd Ruther­ford said, “Con­sid­er­ing that this is one of the most densely pop­u­lated ar­eas on Kent Is­land, we are for­tu­nate that no one was killed!” Only one in­jury was re­ported.

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