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Friday, May 6, 2016

Freak storm disrupts lives near Viola

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jennifer Welter (right) and her sister try to salvage belongings on Monday, Dec. 10, a day after a storm blew the roof off of her duplex. The National Weather Service says a downdraft during a thunderstorm caused the damage to property about five miles west of Viola.
"This is my son's ball glove,"Jennifer Welter said, showing the possession she had dug out of debris scattered across her backyard. "There's my plastic white chair," she added, pointing to the broken chair which was wrapped around a tree.

Welter was away from her home on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 9, when dark clouds and rain moved in.

By the time she reached her home, a duplex on Highway 62-412 at Fawnwood Road, the entire roof of the long brick building was gone -- tossed into the backyard.

While Welter and her 10 year old son, Timothy, missed the storm, her brother and his family, who lived in a mobile home down by the road, lived through the terror.

"He (brother Tim Lee) felt the wind pick up and he heard a back bedroom window fall out," Welter said. "Then, he felt the trailer being picked up and yelled, 'Everyone to the bathroom.'

It was over in seconds, but it was a scary ride, as the trailer was lifted and slammed down, and its front deck was torn from the building and smashed.

"Tim was worried that my son was home alone, he and ran up here to check to see if he was safe," Welter said, adding her sister-in-law, Emily, hurt her knee during the rush to take cover but, otherwise, everyone was o.k.

In the damage area, which is about five miles west of Viola, three barns and some outbuildings were damaged or destroyed, and trees were downed.

"An insurance adjuster, who was out here last night (Sunday), said the building looked like a total loss," Welter said.

Family and friends helped remove Welter's belongings on Sunday evening after the storm. It was surreal on a very cold Monday morning, as she and her sister, Loni Roberts, wandered through the house with no roof overhead, and white blown-in insulation covering the floors like new fallen snow.

"I didn't have renters insurance but we got my stuff out. It was wet but som of it can probably be saved," Welter said.

Residents of the area who saw the storm called it a tornado, but the National Weather Service was skeptical because the path of the damage was so concentrated into one, small area.

A weather service team, which visited the Viola area on Monday, Dec. 10, concluded a downdraft from a thunderstorm, with winds of more than 80 mph, caused the damage to the duplex and other buildings.

Why was the duplex hit so hard, while other nearby homes suffered just minor damage?

The weather experts noted the duplex sat at the top of a small hill. They believe the wind just curled under the front overhang and peeled the roof back and off the house.

On Dec. 9, scattered storm damage was also reported to the east, in the Ravenden and Imboden areas and in a rural area near Pocahontas.

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