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Homes destroyed, possessions lost for W.Va. residents

September 19, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

DARKESVILLE, W.VA. - A trailer was hurled into the next yard, a house was shoved off its foundation and the roof of a former church was peeled away in southern Berkeley County, W.Va., Friday night.

What might have been a tornado - the National Weather Service hasn't confirmed it - made it a dark day in Darkesville.

Louise Anderson was sitting in a recliner in her U.S. 11 trailer on Friday about 7:45 p.m., watching television, when the storm hit and rocked her home, said one of her sons, Tommy Sisk, 23.


Saturday afternoon, he stepped inside the listing trailer, which, based on its sprayed contents, appeared to have been picked up, shaken and put down.

Two tree limbs were sticking through the wall like the tines of a fork, about a foot from the chair in which his mother sat.

Another son, Denny Sisk, said his mother needed three stitches on her hand, but otherwise was OK.

A third son, Art, was knocked under the trailer and hit by a pole, and his wife, Brenda, suffered a bad injury to her finger, Tommy and Denny Sisk said.

Looking at the mangled metal frame resting against the Sisks' trailer, Tommy Sisk said that was what was left of a next-door neighbor's trailer, which flew into their yard.

The neighbor, whose name could not be confirmed Saturday, had to be pulled from the wreckage by rescue workers, said Rick Petry, the fire chief of the South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Co. He said the man was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va.

A hospital spokeswoman said there were no patients listed there by the name mentioned by neighbors Saturday afternoon.

A few doors north on U.S. 11, the Rev. Paul Luther Flick, 81, planned to spend Friday evening in an easy chair in his TV room, but his daughter convinced him to go out for dinner.

He said he returned home after dinner. As he stepped out from his bathroom, the storm smashed his home.

"Just that quick," he said. "Snap your fingers. It was just a 'BOOM!' It was such a powerful clash, it knocked me down."

Flick - who has been a minister and has coached basketball, track and weightlifting - said he has two artificial knees and had to crawl first to get himself on his feet.

Lying on the floor in the dark, he could see a transformer spraying sparks outside, he said.

Asked if he was injured, he said, "Just my heart," and nearly cried. "My wife and I built every bit of this, every nail."

Laura "Glenna" "Benny" Flick was 76 when she died in July. Paul Flick said they were married 58 years and nine months.

Laura Flick had collected hundreds of pieces of Pepsi-Cola memorabilia, including some unopened bottles.

"She was a Pepsiholic," Paul Flick joked. "She loved it. She drank it every day."

Virtually all of the pieces were saved and friends and relatives toted them away.

A chunk of the home, though, was ravaged. Flick leaned on the edge of his television as he spoke. Behind him, the wall and roof of the room - where he had planned to relax - was gone.

"Well, that's life," he said.

Conrad Brooks patted Flick on the shoulder to cheer him up.

Brooks, 73, who has appeared in dozens of B horror movies, said he was in his home nearby Friday evening when his daughter, who lives across the street, called to tell him a massive storm was coming.

He said he didn't imagine it would be that bad, thinking, "This is West Virginia. It couldn't happen here."

Brooks said he thought calamity of that magnitude was reserved for California. He recalled living through three earthquakes in California and a tornado in Florida and being at the World Trade Center in 2001 about three weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He said he was convinced the storm was bad, though, when his trailer did "a little shimmy" for about 15 seconds.

Teresa Gregory, 44, stood at the corner of U.S. 11 and Hatchery Road, eyeing the top of a brick building. The roof was missing.

She said the building is more than 150 years old and used to be a church. Now, it's an antiques shop.

Gregory's trailer, adjacent to the brick building, mostly was spared. She said some bricks fell and made holes in her roof and there's other exterior damage, but her insurance company told her to expect help on Monday.

"We were at Food Lion when it came through," she said.

Gregory said her sister across the street, Sharon Cox, was home with her husband when the storm came. Their home's chimney blew off and their truck almost was pushed into a creek.

"She said it was like a freight train," Gregory said.

National Weather Service forecaster Steve Rogowski said crews from his office haven't reached every spot in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., to confirm each of the possible tornadoes.

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