Fifteen years ago, at 3:05 p.m. on July 14, 2004, an F-3 tornado touched down in South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County.
On the ground for 10 to 15 minutes, the tornado cut a path of destruction 7.5 miles
Winds whipped between 175 mph and 200 mph.
In its wake – 37 homes were destroyed, 30 homes were severely damaged, 80 homes were moderately damaged and 24 people were hurt.
Up to 500 acres of crops were lost and agricultural damage topped $ 3 million. Nine farm buildings were destroyed or destroyed and six farm animals were killed.
Thousands of people were left without electricity and temporarily homeless.
Volunteers rallied. They prepared meals, helped to clear debris and begin repairs. Donations poured in – soda, water, diapers, first aid kits, batteries, toys, clothing, food and cash.
Residents were glad to be alive.
Garth Warner was blown out of the back wall of his house clutching 3-year-old Madison, while he was married, Michelle, huddled with their 1-year-old on the floor, which was left of their house.
"I sound never like freight train, I will never forget," he said. "I was getting pelted. I was screaming for her, but I couldn't hear my own screams. I thought I was going to die, I truly did. But we're here. I'm talking to you. The house can be rebuilt. "
The Rev. Dwight C. Hein talked to his congregation at Salem United Church of Christ about hope and optimism.
"I am not naive to think that everyone is in that place right now," Hein said. "When the people were being evacuated, I could see their eyes. But soon I saw tears of desperation changed to tears of thankfulness. "
Nine days after the tornado, Kurt Yordy said he believed the volunteer to help him and other victims should be remembered for generations. He and other victims have set up a fund to collect donations for use toward recognizing the volunteers' work.
"I get more chucked about these volunteers than what happened to me. People took their jobs, their jobs and how to work for me," Yordy said. "I don't want them to be forgotten, what they did."
Carole Ackerman of Campbelltown wrote this letter to the editor July 23, 2004:
"Our clocks still read 3:05 p.m. – the time a tornado tore apart our beautiful homes in Country Squire Estates in Campbelltown. For 15 minutes I listened to our windows blowing out, siding being ripped off and house alarms blaring.
I prayed for it and that everyone would emerge unharmed. I was not prepared for what I was when I was born This is the last thing in the world. Monstrous Dumpsters hold the remains of many beautiful possessions.
But we are still here, safe and accounted for. God was watching over us, despite the storm's devastation.
Our spirits are high because of the hundreds of volunteers and emergency personnel who have flocked here to help. The fire companies, ambulance staff, rescue squads, Red Cross, Salvation They are well trained for disasters and their work here was evident of that. Everyone should be proud of it.
The landscape looks different now. But we’re still neighbors helping neighbors. The hugs are more plentiful and the smiles are broader, the handshakes last longer now. We’ll be even closer now. Thanks to all who have helped in any way. Their prayers and thoughts are much appreciated. "
Good Morning, Pennsylvania
Sign up now for Good Morning, Pennsylvania, and get the most important headlines delivered free to your inbox by 6 a.m. Monday-Friday.