A Tornado Hit My House

On May 27, 2001 an F2 tornado hit my house while I was inside. The tornado was 200 ft wide and had winds of up to 120 miles per hour. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.

However, the past two days have unleashed horror on some folks in Alabama where Tornado’s have claimed at least 247 lives, as of this writing, and these events keep bringing me back to that day when the tornado hit my house. That day looked like this:

It was a warm, sunny day and family and friends were at my parent’s house. Some people were outside barbecuing, some were in my brother’s room hanging out (room facing the front of the house), and I was in my room with my cousins (room facing the back of the house). We were all chatting, joking around, doing what anyone would do during a house party and then it happened..

My brother and his friends started sprinting down the stairs screaming “tornado, tornado…get in the basement.” My entire room cleared out and my cousins quickly followed suit.

For whatever reason that I still cannot describe to this day, I didn’t run down the stairs right away. Instead, I made my way to my brother’s room to see what exactly was going on.

As I took a step towards his door, the air pressure changed. My ears started to pop as if I were on a plane. A very depressurized plane. Explosion-like sounds started going off in succession all around the house. From room to room it sounded like dynamite going off. Those sounds finally knocked sense in to me and within seconds I made it down to the basement, but by the time I got downstairs it was all over.

After waiting about a minute or so, and after everything had calmed, I walked back upstairs to assess the damage starting with my bedroom. My room was virtually untouched. For whatever reason, my windows weren’t locked and the windows flew open to equalize the pressure.

My brother’s and sister’s room however didn’t have the same fortune. Their windows were locked, so in order for the pressure to equalize the windows imploded creating the explosion-like sounds. Their rooms were torn apart. I stuck my head outside my brother’s broken window and on the front lawn I could see my cousin’s van. It had been tossed upside down and thrown about 50 feet from the street onto our front lawn. I turned my head right to look at my neighbor’s house. Half of their roof was missing. Their front yard was destroyed.

I did some more assessment and walked around the house mesmerized by what had just occurred. As I made my way to the backyard I heard the sirens. At that point, I made my way to the front of the house to see the commotion and it looked like a war had just taken place on my block. An army of firetrucks and police cars all surrounded the block. By this time, the rest of our family, friends and neighbors also made it to the street and it looked like everyone was accounted for and ok. No missing people. No injuries. A lot of shock and disbelief.

In hindsight it is still very bizarre that I had this experience. Who would ever think a tornado could affect you (especially in New Jersey)?  Nonetheless, it happened and I’m fortunate to be able to tell the story.

So keep an open mind and always be on alert because you never know what can happen to you, until it does.

My thoughts and prayers are with the folks involved in these southern storms. Stay safe.

Side Note: If you or anyone you know has been involved in a tornado, please leave your story in the comments section.

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  • joelle lipsman

    My story is quite similar to yours. ;) You mentioned that for some reason you didn’t go immediately downstairs, I also could not go straight down in the basement, after I made it down the main stairs, I stood in shock, almost like everything was at a standstill, then it changed to slow motion. I snapped out of the daze (of disbelief) when I started seeing windows in the downstairs kitchen pop pop pop. I went down into the basements with the cousins. from there our stories pretty much match up.

  • http://danreich.com danreich

    Can’t even imagine what it would have been like if we witnessed a roof being torn off right above our heads.