Tornado leaves path of destruction on KI
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.
The remains of a row boat can be seen among the broken trees in Bay City.
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.
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.