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Tornado accounts

June 18, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE and LISA GRAYBEALs

Tracey Brown waited out the tornado in the parking lot of Valley Mall Tuesday night when the door to her Jeep Grand Cherokee wouldn't open because of the wind and heavy rain.

"I fastened my seat belt. I just scooted down, scooted all the way down and prayed to God," she said.

Brown, 42, heard a popping noise and looked back to see wind had broken her rear window.

When she got back to her house at 1125 Beechwood Drive, there were trees on top of her two-story house, the back porch roof was detached and her porch furniture was strewn everywhere.




About 30 students and 15 staff members from Cedar Ridge Children's Home showed up at the Wal-Mart store on Wesel Boulevard on Wednesday morning ready to help in the cleanup.

"The Cedar Ridge boys really pulled together for us," said David Hylton, assistant manager.

The students and staff joined about 30 Wal-Mart employees who came from stores as far away as Hanover and Gettysburg, Pa., and Frederick, Md., to sift through the debris left in the storm's wake.

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Most of the damage centered on the store's garden center where a greenhouse structure was destroyed and a large canopy was swept into the air. Yard and garden equipment, landscaping supplies and flowers and shrubs were destroyed, Hylton said.




A tree fell and tore the electrical box off the back of Chris and Charleen Valentine's house at 1129 Beechwood Drive.

Nearby, at 1121 Beechwood Drive, Sandra Shawyer had practically no damage. A hanging plant was blown off her front porch and her antenna was twisted in the wind.




Paul Hovermill, 56, of 1113 Beechwood Drive, was supposed to be attending a conference at Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Md., on Wednesday.

Instead, he was cleaning up storm damage to his 1998 Oldsmobile and his shed.

Hovermill said he could tell the storm was going to be bad.

"Supper stayed on the table and we went into the basement," he said.

Hovermill's neighbor John Creager, 52, pointed to a pile of brush where his girlfriend's car was parked earlier.

The couple was at an auto auction in State Line, Pa., when the storm hit. They returned to find trees down everywhere and some damage to the roof of the house.




After Sis Houser saw the first streak of lightning, she left her spot on the front porch of her Allen Avenue home and headed inside just moments before her daughter called from Frederick warning her about the storm.

"She told me to get into the basement because there was a tornado warning," Houser said.

She didn't immediately head for the basement, but Houser said it wasn't long before she took cover as the wind and rain pummeled her home.

It was while she was heading downstairs that she heard a loud noise. She turned around and ran back upstairs where she saw the carport had been ripped away from the side of her house and the roof collapsed.

On Wednesday afternoon, Houser was picking up shattered glass from the windows that had been blown out of the carport. She said she was waiting for a representative from her insurance company to assess the damage.




At Fountainhead Golf Course, a siren warned golfers of the impending storm at about 5:30 p.m., said Superintendent Ken Keller.

It hit with a vengeance. Some trees were uprooted, some were split by lightning and others were sheared off at the top.

Greens and fairways were littered with branches and leaves.

"I just knew I'd have my work cut out for me for awhile," Keller said.

A 120-golfer tournament set for Wednesday was canceled, he said. The course is expected to reopen Friday.

But it will take longer than that to clean up all the damage. So many trees were destroyed that the course won't look the same, he said.




The pitcher had just thrown his first ball to the batter when umpires for the West End Little League called the players in after seeing flashes of lightning in the sky.

The players waited about 15 minutes to see what the storm would do when someone at the game was notified of the tornado warning, said Bill Lightner, president of the league.

The game was called and the players were sent home just before the storm swept through the area, knocking trees onto both dugouts on the minor league field and taking out the fence in right field, Lightner said.

"It's a mess. It was really something," he said.




Sterling Carter, 67, said he was watching television when he heard a crash and looked out his 16620 Tammany Lane window to see a 100-year-old tree had fallen on his driveway, missing his house.

"It was the strangest sight I ever saw, it was like a gray fog going by," Carter said. He also lost power to his home after trees and telephone poles in his back yard downed wires.

The funnel cloud touched down again near Hickory Elementary School.




Jane Souders, 58, of 11020 Hickory School Road, said she was watching the news when she heard of a possible tornado sighting in Martinsburg, W.Va.

"The next thing I heard was a big 'woooo' and we went to the basement ... We heard a big crash," said Souders, who was raking storm debris in her front yard Wednesday afternoon.

The "pop pop pop" sound Souders thought were power lines turned out to be the neighbor's trees.

Around the corner from Hickory Elementary School on Grosh Avenue, a large tree splintered at the base was prevented from falling when it became entangled in power lines and a telephone pole.

related stories:




Tornado accounts

Some areas still without power day after tornadoes hit

Wednesday night storm adds to outages

Winds batter Tri-State area

Storm damages W.Va. houses, trees

Witnesses say they saw Pa. twister

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