Family escapes harm as twister strikes north of Fort Madison

Aaron and Christine Schwerin assess the damage near their home on 4 Seasons Road just north of Fort Madison Wednesday morning. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – A family living on 4 Seasons Road is cleaning up substantial damage after a twister struck their home just after 7 p.m. Tuesday night as part of line of strong thunderstorms that pushed quickly through from the southwest.

Rich Kinney with the National Weather Service out of the Quad Cities, and Lee County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Jason Dinwiddie said they believes the damage was caused by an EF-0 tornado, the smallest value on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. EF-0 indicates rotations with winds in the 65-85 mph.

“We both think it was a small isolated tornado. That’s what our suspicions are. There wasn’t any other real damage and it was very localized,” Dinwiddie said.

Dinwiddie drove the area just north of the Hwy. 61 bypass of 193rd Street last night after the storm. He said no one actually witnessed a twister but damage assessments and photos indicate a small tornado touched down.

Christine Schwerin, who lives in the 2900 block of 4 Seasons Road about 3/4 of a mile north of the Hwy. 61 bypass and a mile west of 303rd Avenue, said her family ran to the southwest part of their partially in-ground home when rain was horizontal out the window.

“It was so calm, and then all of a sudden we looked out and it was downpouring, but not making a lot of noise,” she said. “Then all of a sudden the rain went sideways and we were outta there, and headed to the safest part of the house.

“Then we heard something hit the house and then all this rustling… and then it was done. Calm… crazy… and then calm.”

Fortunately no one in the neighborhood was hurt in the brief storm.

Schwerin and her husband Aaron, were out picking up debris from around the agriculture neighborhood early Wednesday morning. Neighbors and friends helped the Schwerin’s until about 1 a.m. tarping up about 35% of their roof that was removed in the storm.

Schwerin said a neighbor saw their trampoline get picked up and swirled around in the air and then crash to the ground.

Kinney said that information is what makes them think there was a tornado involved in the storm.

“Straight line winds aren’t going to do that kind of lofting of objects,” Kinney said. “We posted the warning at about 7:11 p.m. and then this was reported at about 7:19.”

Denmark Fire & Rescue and Lee County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene to make sure everyone was okay.

The Schwerin’s said they had already talked to their insurance company and that process was underway.

The family suffered damage to the roof, fencing, some trees on the east side of the property and a children’s play area was destroyed. Additional interior rain damage was suffered due to rain after the damage to the roof.

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