Contractors sealed tarps onto homes along Royal Oak Drive and Acorn Circle on Tuesday morning as residents prepared their damaged homes for another expected round of storms.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Brunswick shortly before 7 p.m. Monday, first hitting Marie Drive, and then striking Royal Oak Drive. The storm continued northeast about 1.7 miles, damaging homes on Clover Drive and Red Clover Drive.
The weather service said the severity of the damage indicated the storm varied between an EF0 and EF1 on the Fujita Scale. EF1 tornadoes can pack winds of up to 110 mph. EF0 tornadoes have a speed of between 65 and 85 mph.
The home with the most damage belongs to Paul McNamee, of Royal Oak Drive. The roof and second floor of his home were ripped off. His wife was home at the time, taking shelter in the basement.
When he arrived home, police and fire crews already had crowded the street.
“The first thing I said was ‘Where’s my wife,’ ” he said.
Firefighters escorted her to safety out the front door shortly after he arrived. But his family has only been able to take a few belongings from the home while crews work to assess the damage.
“They’re boarding it up and we’ll go from there,” McNamee said. “We don’t really know what’s next.”
Three doors down from the McNamee home, Molly Koenig called her children inside from playing only minutes before the tornado struck. Surveillance video from her backyard shows debris from McNamee and other neighbor’s homes being ripped off by a tornado at 6:48 p.m.
On the video, you can see her kids coming inside the door from playing outside just minutes before.
“When I watched the video, the timing scared me the most,” Koenig said. “They were outside running around minutes before it hit.”
Koenig said there was only a little rain before the tornado struck, and the only warning anyone had was a darkening sky.
“We always hear about tornado watches and warnings, and one never touches down,” she said. “This time there wasn’t even a warning.”
Most residents reported the tornado struck so fast, it was over by the time they got to their basements.
Rock Passalacqua, who lives next door to Koenig and two doors down from McNamee’s home, said he heard a familiar sound before the twister hit.
“They say you hear a train whistle noise when there’s a tornado and it’s true,” he said. He and his wife were standing in the kitchen at the back of their home and saw the roof coming off a home behind them on Acorn Circle.
“We saw the roof unraveling and headed downstairs,” he said. “By the time we got down there, it seemed to be ending.”
Passalacqua said the worst of it only seemed to last about 20 to 30 seconds, but the heavy rains came in behind it.
“It just poured after that, but the damage had already been done,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. It was terrible.”
Mark Seidel, who lives between Passalacqua and McNamee, also lost part of his garage and had other siding damage.
His 9-month-old’s room is above the garage, but thankfully he and his family were not at home.
“You look at the damage to my garage and my neighbor’s house — that could have been my kid’s room,” he said.
When he arrived home, his first worry was about his neighbors.
“There were police and fire trucks everywhere,” he said. “The first thing I wanted to do is make sure all the people were OK.”
Seidel said it took some time to find his family’s cats, one of which had climbed behind a bed and was afraid to come out.
“They were hiding. They were pretty scared,” he said.
On Tuesday, residents mingled with one another, sharing stories, support and sympathy on front lawns, in garages and on streets.
Many contractors already were working to secure exposed roofs to help prevent leaks during rain expected Tuesday evening. Police and fire personnel also were on hand to help protect residents’ property and keep contractors and solicitors at bay.
“We’re sort of acting as a liaison for the residents today,” Brunswick Assistant Fire Chief Rick Barber said.“We just wanted to be here if they needed anything.”
More than 40 homes sustained some type of damage. Four homes have been declared uninhabitable by the Brunswick Building Department, and more than 10
homes sustained major roof and siding damage from the storm.
On Clover Drive, Dominic DiIorio, and his wife, Arti, packed their bags and headed up to the Holiday Inn. More than half his roof is gone and his house sustained water damage.
“They tell us it’s going to take about a month to fix it,” he said.
In the meantime, his insurance company is looking for a condominium to put the couple in while they await the repairs.
DiIorio, a retired Brunswick High School assistant principal, was at home with his wife when the storm hit. He raced down to the main floor and he and his wife tried their best to mop up the water that was pouring into their home.
“It was just coming in so fast, pouring over the walls,” he said. “We’ve never had anything like it.”