Mark Wilson: Sister, that may have been a twister

October 27, 2012

296-10272012.psd

Sister, that may have been a twister

TOLAR – For a couple of days after he was awakened by the Oct. 14 storm that ripped the roof off of his mobile home on Friendship Road in Tolar, Roy Rothe was hoping it was only a nightmare.

Unfortunately it was reality – one that forced him to move in with his older brother Richard, who lives nearby. Rothe was not insured for storm damage and hasn’t contacted Red Cross representatives for assistance.

Rothe, 53, said because he apparently slept through most of the driving rain, hail and wind gusts, he “really didn’t have time to be scared.”

“I was awakened by the trailer rocking,” Rothe said. “It felt like it was going to blow off the foundation. I was kind of stunned when I figured out what was going on.

“It was just unreal. It seemed like a dream or something – that it wasn’t happening or it was a bad nightmare. I’m glad nobody was harmed.”

Rothe said he put on his pants, shirt and shoes – and even turned on a television to see if there were reports of a dangerous storm in the area.

“To me it sounded like rain was hitting different sides of the house,” said Rothe, who moved to Tolar from Rendon in 1990. “Suddenly it was like it eased up for a couple of seconds. The next thing I knew, the house shook violently.”

One particularly loud noise made him think that damaged material from a neighbor’s house might have struck his residence.

“Then I started feeling water, and I realized it was my roof,” Rothe said.

Joyce Sanders of Tolar also was asleep when it began, and couldn’t see anything when she looked out because of the hard rain. But she’s convinced that the damage done at her place was caused by a twister.

On her 13-acre patch of land on the western edge of Tolar, the storm pushed a 30-foot travel trailer out from under the carport on the side of the house into the backyard, damaging a fence as well as the trailer.

“I heard the trailer slam into the house. It (the tornado) missed my house by inches,” Sanders said. “Things were being thrown around everywhere.”

Sanders said she was “devastated” by the storm, which also uprooted seven of her trees, which were 20-25 feet tall.

She said two different insurance adjusters told her they thought that a tornado caused the damage.

“It was probably not one big enough that radar could pick it up, but it was big enough to do a lot of damage,” said Sanders, 67, whose two adult daughters also live on the property.

A young Bluff Dale man whose friend is related to a landowner off of Bee Court near Friendship Road said winds from the storm picked up a small metal barn. It landed 60 yards away.

“I heard a lot of people say they thought it was a tornado, for the damage it did,” he said.

Steve Fano, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth who was on duty at the time of the storm, said it was more likely straight-line winds of 65-70 mph.

“Everything I have indicated we pretty much had a line of strong to severe storms. Straight-line winds were basically the only thing reported to us,” Fano said. “It could have been a concentrated area of wind. It would not surprise me to have that kind of damage with straight-line winds.”

But, he conceded, “If it was that small of an area, the radar probably wouldn’t have picked it up.”

‘A WRECK’

“I was a wreck,” Sanders said of her reaction to hearing the winds thrashing and the travel trailer bumping the house as it was being pushed. “It was terrible. I’ve never been through anything like that in my life. I see how lucky we are and how blessed we are that we’re alive.”

A woman who was also in the middle of some of the action on Friendship Road, who asked not to be identified, said, “It was a wild ride around here. I was woken up and I was literally being shaken up in my bed.

“I heard noises I’d never heard before. The lightning was close, frequent and it was weird.”

Rothe, a former truck driver and police officer in the Rendon area, said the coming days for him will be like starting over in life. Early Tuesday afternoon, he was still in the process of trying to salvage what he could from the residence – particularly photographs and other sentimental items. He said his church, Elm Grove Assembly of God, has been providing assistance, in addition to Richard.

“My brother has been gracious enough to meet my needs,” Rothe said. “I’m really kind of excited. Maybe you wouldn’t choose to start over this way. Nevertheless, it’s a new start.

“I have faith in God that he will take care of me. I have no doubt about that.”

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