Thursday, May 26, 2011

was it a tornado?

“In Cumberland County, police scanner reports around 6:50 p.m. stated that a tornado touched down” Severe thunderstorm hits Cumberland County

Just about that time, I was pulling up under the porte cochere of Patti’s care facility as all hell broke loose. Wind and rain blew so hard horizontally that cover meant nothing. Hail began to pound the rear window so hard I fully expected it to burst especially as hail grew to the size of jawbreakers. One extraordinary burst of wind briefly lifted the rear of our van and we watched pieces of the porte cochere blow off and disappear into the maelstrom of rain, hail, and wind in front of us. Power inside the facility failed and soon weighted outdoor furniture and trash cans were blowing by. With a loud crack the facility sign joined the casualties.  

How nothing hit our wheelchair van is beyond me but I am grateful. When wind slowed enough to open my door without it being ripped off I pried open the once automatic doors of the facility to see what was happening inside.

Not only was power out but back up generator had blown. Staff was executing tornado emergency procedures and getting everyone into wheelchairs and into halls away from windows until tornado warning was lifted.

Determining that we had power at home, I slalomed home on roads littered with trees, tree branches, puddles more suitable for boating than driving, and void of operable traffic signals. Emergency vehicles screamed in all directions.  

Around 11 PM the care facility called to inform me the tornado watch was lifted, emergency generator was working and full power was expected by 1 AM.
No guarantee our home power would stay on with more thunderstorms forecasted overnight, so we slalomed back.

Was it a tornado? I don’t think so. We lived through an F3 tornado in College Park, MD in 2001 that killed 2, injured 50, and left a 17 mile path of destruction. I’ll never forget the sound of a tornado, like trains racing from all directions.

All safe – that’s the only thing that really matters.
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 
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  1. Patrick, How scary! I did hear that there was a bone fide (albeit small) tornado north of you, so maybe you actually did have some of the remnants! We seemed to miss a lot of the ferocity here in Joisey! Glad you're both safe!

  2. Glad to hear that you're all safe and w/c van unscathed too. Scary when backup generators at an LTC facility go out - yikes.

    Again, glad you don't have an even scarier story to tell.


  3. Donna and Muff, thanks for the kind thoughts. As for 'back up' generators I suspect regular maintenance and service may not always be the highest priority. Then again what facility really tests them for extended use. ... The city's sewage treatment center's back-up generator caught fire and was destroyed, (no pun intended) but thousands today are literally up 'sh*t's creek'.

  4. I don't know, things were flying all around, signs were crashing down, trees and debris were all over the road, power was out. I'm thinking it had to be a bit of a tornado! Oh my gosh, how scary; glad you all were okay, Patrick!! It was nice to see that the care facility were getting right on it with tornado procedures, etc and that they called and let you know an update when things "settled" a bit! Crazy weather indeed!

    do try to be safe!!



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