TORNADO DAMAGE APRIL 27, 2011

The range is at the far end of the tornado path in the first picture above.  I was unfortunate enough to be the supervising sergeant on duty at the Pleasant Grove PD when this thing hit us.  11 people died in about a minute.  I had three officers working.  I sent each in a different direction, north, east,west and south from the station.  What I saw I will forever remember.  The first person I ran into in the tornado path was a 90 year old lady sitting on a chair on the foundation of her house.  Part of a closet frame was to her right.  Everything else from floor level up was gone.  She had moved a chair into her hall closet and survived.  She was upright in the chair and alert.  I wrapped her horrendous cuts on her arms in a sheet from the yard, handed her off to other neighbors to get to the street and moved to the next, and the next.  Within a few hours, we had all the help anyone could want, digging out people from collapsed houses.  It was a bad day at work.  

 

The range was luckily just grazed.  The tornado passed across our south side.  If you are on our rifle range, look east.  There are no trees taller than 10 feet.  Range staff came in every day and worked at cleanup.  For the 4 of us, it was a huge amount to get done so we could reopen.  Three weeks later, we did reopen.  The office got new windows, all the stumps (over 100 from the trees broken off or blown over) were dug up,  the missing range covers were replaced or rebuilt, the broken rifle table was replaced, and all the debris was hauled out.  I worked from 7:00 to 13:30, got a shower and worked 14:00 to 2:00 for PGPD, got up the next day and did it again.  It was a very tough time.  What you now see at the range is the result of that cleanup and clearing effort.  

The house was missing a bunch of shingles, the vents were bent up by debris, the skirting was gone, the ceilings inside have new cracks from the pressure, and the cover I have used to keep my bike and boat out of the weather is wadded up into a ball.  The house was moved from its original spot.  Several tiers have been moved when the house was lifted by the tornado.  The tie downs did their job.  Now one side is tight and the other side loose.  My boat was picked up and moved about 20 feet.  One amazing thing, the goldwing did not get a scratch. 

It was a pretty big mess but we knocked it out in a month.  Most of the downed trees have been cut and pulled out.  The office has new windows and fresh paint.  The crushed covers on ranges 4 and 5 have been been fixed and all the ranges are open for use.  The cover on range 3 was gone and had to be replaced.  The house got a new roof and skirting.  Some sheet-rock inside was damaged and was replaced.  New outbuildings replaced the crushed ones.  Even though we took a hit, it could have been much worse.  Hundreds of houses in Pleasant Grove were erased.  It easily could have hit us harder.   There are a few pics of the neighborhoods in Pleasant Grove....

I now have a healthy respect for the power tornadoes possess.  There is literally no safe place above ground in the path of a tornado.  I saw "safe" places crushed or ripped away.  I have a storm shelter in my future for my family.  This is the third tornado to hit Pleasant Grove in the last 30 years.  That is one about every 10 years.  The F5 in 1998 passed within a quarter mile of here.  This one actually crossed the property and was within 200 feet of my house.  A storm shelter is good insurance.

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