Cleaning up after tornado hits NE Philadelphia

Residents and business owners were cleaning up in Northeast Philadelphia on Thursday, a day after a tornado struck.

May 19, 2011 3:38:50 PM PDT
Residents and business owners in Northeast Philadelphia were cleaning up on Thursday after a tornado touched down.

The twister, classified by the National Weather Service as an EF0 with winds of about 75 miles per hour, touched down shortly before 2:00 p.m. Wednesday during a thunderstorm.

It was 100 feet wide and carved path of destruction 300 feet long. It came and left within seconds.

The owners of R & R Car Repair will need a little 'R&R' (rest and relaxation) after they work to remove the debris from their body shop caused by the storm.

The strong winds were enough to take down the large roof of the business.

Keith Walsh manages Ace Hi Auto, a business in front of the body shop.

"[The roof] landed right behind us, those guys out back, they were lucky to get out. I believe they were eating lunch at the time so they were in their office and not out working on cars," Walsh said.

A few seconds of the storm were captured on a surveillance camera from an Advance Auto Parts store.

On Thursday morning, heavy equipment hauled in materials as crews repaired the roofs torn apart by the storm.

A nearby beer distributor, The Beer Hut, had its roof peeled off. Inside, signs were strewn around and merchandise was destroyed.

Kunjumon Eranackam was there buying lottery tickets when the tornado hit. Today, an insurance agent was inspecting his car, which was hit by flying debris.

"I heard some noise and looked and there was wind and I saw a trash can was flying through the sky, you know, and after a few seconds - 15 or 20 seconds - debris came out from the roof and hit my car," Eranackam said.

The weather Thursday was again impacting the tornado victims. Late afternoon thunderstorms interrupted the cleanup.

"The longer we stay closed, it's not good for us, especially now with the economy the way it is," Walsh said.

Despite the damage, there were no serious injuries reported from this storm, though, some apartments were condemned.

Over the past 60 years of records, only 9 tornadoes, including this most recent one, touched down in Philadelphia; three were EF2 tornadoes. The last Philly tornado was in 1999.

Insurance adjusters were out Thursday, but have yet to release any damage cost estimates.

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