Confirmed Tornado: "I Saw the Roof Fly Off" | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Confirmed Tornado: "I Saw the Roof Fly Off"

It was just a few seconds of pure terror in Northeast Philly

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Looking at the damage around them, these guys are pretty lucky to live through the tornado that hit one NE Philly neighborhood Wednesday afternoon. (Published Wednesday, May 18, 2011)

    Giant pieces of roof flew everywhere as Rick Ciecka made a delivery to The Beer Hut in Northeast Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon.

    Rick didn't know yet that it was a twister, but his instincts kicked in and he dove into his truck for cover.

    1st Philly Twister in More Than a Decade

    [PHI] 1st Philly Twister in More Than a Decade
    An EF-0 tornado wreaks havoc in Northeast Philadelphia, damaging homes and businesses and sending witnesses ducking for cover. (Published Wednesday, May 18, 2011)

    "It started rocking back and forth and I looked up and saw the cloud spinning and pulling and the roof was gone!"

    Witnesses saw the huge cloud descend on the 9800 block of Northeast Avenue.

    "It just got black, real dark," said witness Rick Vangas. "Next thing you know big sound -- boom!"

    It all happened in a matter of seconds -- the funnel cloud was grounded for just 300 feet, according to officials.

    "I was in the back bedroom and the windows blew in and I saw the roof fly off," said James Price.

    It was the second time in mere months that Price, who escaped a house fire earlier this year, escaped tragedy.

    The National Weather Service confirmed that it was an EF-0 tornado that hit for about six seconds. That's the weakest on the scale, with winds 65 to 85 miles per hour -- strong enough to blow Jim Razler through the garage bay at R & R Car Repair, where the most damage was done.

    "The next thing I know, there's debris falling all over me and I was covered and my wife's gonna take me to the hospital now," Razler said.

    It's the first tornado in Philadelphia since 1999. And we've only had seven others in the city since 1950. For Rick C., Rick V., Jim and James, it was 30 seconds of pure terror, that seemed to last forever.

    "I just want to get home, and go have a beer," Ciecka said.


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