Fatal Tornado Crushes Chucktown
An F-3 Tornado ripped through a portion of Chucktown killing at least 3 people and demolishing houses as well as, Adams Elementary School.
The three victims have identified as 16-year-old Rhonda Tracey, 36-year-old Victor Jones, and former Chucktown mayor 57-year-old Julie Rudiani.
The tornado touched down at 10:59 AM, only 8 minutes after the warning sirens went off. The tornado had winds up to 180 miles per hour and sustained winds of 165 miles per hour. It traveled northeast for approximately 2 miles and caused extensive damage in its path.
County coordinator of the Emergency and Disaster Agency, Axel Dent said "Adams Elementary School is basically down to a couple of walls left standing."
Adams Elementary School was closed that day due to a faculty work day. School Principal, Jerrie Potter was at the school when the tornado hit. Potter said "I heard the sirens go off, but I kept working, then at around 10:30 AM I heard what sounded like a freight train."
As the ceiling caved in above her, she sought safety underneath of her desk. She came out of the ruins with only a few scratches, but some of her associates suffered more serious injuries.
The worst of the injured was Thomas Tibbits, the school guidance counselor who was buried by bricks and lumber when they found him and bleeding from his head and legs. He was taken away in an ambulance to receive surgery for internal bleeding.
The school was attended by 300 students and 25 faculty members. Classes have been cancelled until the school can find a temporary location.
Another victim of the Tornado, Kathryn Koffee, Assistant Vice President of the 3rd National Bank of Chucktown, said "It was the most scary thing that ever happened in my life, my first thought was I gotta get the kids."
She and her children sought shelter from the storm in the bedroom closet and stayed there until the howling winds subsided. When they came out there was nothing left. "It looked like a war zone, completely flattened."
Damages to the town due to the tornado include $125-150,000 in residential damage as well as $10-12 million in damage to the overall area.