Over a dozen tornadoes hit the United States’ East Coast on Wednesday, February 24, 2016, leaving seven people dead and 20 reportedly injured.
A rare February tornado watch was issued Wednesday for areas including the District of Columbia, Delaware, central and eastern Maryland, southern New Jersey, southeast Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Northern Virginia. It was in effect until 11 p.m. ET.
More than 100,000 customers were without power early Thursday, according to officials with utility companies in several states and the District of Columbia.
Additionally, over 2,800 U.S. flights were canceled, according to flightaware.com.
Meteorologist Tom Sater said, “This storm is massive in its size – taking up a third of the country – and it’s been a triple threat really. Besides the flooding and the blizzard conditions, it’s been the severe weather.”
Fifty-two tornadoes have been reported across the entire country since Tuesday, according to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, at some of the highest wind speeds. In Florida, winds were recorded at near-100 mph, causing the destruction of homes, cars and other sentimental items.
Despite the destruction, many people who experienced these tornadoes are just grateful that they have survived.
Armin Harris, who experienced the tornado first-hand, says he thinks his stop at the gas station saved his life. His stop on his way to pick up his daughter from school delayed his trip, and those few minutes may have saved him from a fatal experience on the highway.
When he arrived to the chaotic scene on the highway, he assumed it was a bad accident. After seeing a lady saying she was searching for a child, he got out of his car to see if he could help. He realized it was a storm when he saw the damage.
“It was indescribable,” Harris said. “There was mass destruction everywhere.”
Harris feared that if he had not stopped at the gas station, he would have been in the middle of the chaos.
Four of the seven who died were in Virginia, two were in Convent, Louisiana, and one in Lamar County, Mississippi. At least 20 people were reported injured in Essex County, Virginia, where one tornado was reported, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Sophomore Morgan Gelberg says, “I’m grateful that we weren’t hit that hard here in New Jersey, but it was difficult to see on the news all of other people whose property was damaged. Also, it’s frustrating because these tornadoes happen naturally and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it.”
As a result, a curfew was put in effect in Waverly, Virginia starting Wednesday night to clear roads for cleaning up. Additionally, officers requested that people stay off of the roads.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe also declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.
Freshman Amanda Hernandez says, “The storms and tornadoes that just recently hit reminded me of Hurricane Irene and Sandy because the outcomes are pretty similar. For example, schools were closed and the power was out. It was very hard for everyone, especially those whose houses or valuables were damaged.”
Like any state would do after a damaging natural disaster occurred, many people have been contributing as much as they can to rebuild homes and towns.
Hopefully, homes will be rebuilt and roads recovered quickly so those affected can go back to the way things were.
How would handle a natural disaster?