Storm wreaks havoc in Vernon

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:38

    VERNON — When what many thought was a tornado passed through the southwestern section of Vernon Township, the first obvious damage could first be seen around the St. Francis de Sales Church. But the National Weather Service categorized it as a microburst. Although the church was spared, a large sycamore behind the church was torn in half and the signature evergreen that once shaded the entrance sign to the church was torn from the ground. The storm then crossed Route 517 and took down several trees along the roadway before it began heading up the mountain just north of Drew Mountain Road. It passed through Basswood Drive where crews were still working as late as Monday afternoon. Edsall Drive resident Colleen Celentano was at home when the storm came through. Celentano was in her family room watching The Weather Channel when she realized that the path of the storm seemed to be coming directly toward her home. The room’s sliding glass door, which faces away from the oncoming storm, was open when she realized it was raining sideways and into her home. Looking outside, she said the rain was not just raining down, but up and sideways as well. She said that the trees in her yard seemed to be whipping around in circles. Celentano heard odd noises coming from the deck above and she ran up the stairs to see the closed umbrella in a wrought iron and glass table spinning. She then realized that the wind was lifting the thick round glass tabletop off its heavy iron base and then the entire table was sliding across the deck toward where she was standing. She retreated into the house. Celentano’s home is only four houses away from where the storm did the most damage in a path that seemed to vary from 500 to 1,00 feet across. Farther up Edsall Drive the white siding was torn from one house while the roof of the nearby Spina family’s home was torn off. Farther up the road, a van and a car sat crushed by trees in the family’s driveway. Wendy Kmiec, a neighbor who lives several houses away said that the neighbor’s car was a vintage 1971 Corvette. Kmiec was also home during the storm, which began as 10 minutes of heavy rain. Kmiec said she then saw a large section of her neighbor’s siding fly past her home. She described the rain as being loud with booming thunder. She and her husband weathered the storm inside their house and looking outside, she is sure that she saw a twister pass by her home. Just 10 minutes after the storm had passed, she said, the sun shone brightly although everything outside seemed eerily quiet.