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Tornado hits Cleveland, sends students into whirlwind of panic

Courtesy of Molly Walsh/
The tornado impacting much of Northeast Ohio caused severe power outages and property damage, including the destruction of the New Life at Calvary Church.

During the middle of Discover Week, students were rudely awoken by an alert from the National Weather Service (NWS), warning them of a Tornado Warning in effect and instructing them to find shelter. A minute later, the NWS reported a tornado in Cleveland. Starting at East 71st Street and Chester Avenue, it traveled 0.79 miles until it hit East 89th Street and Euclid Avenue.

While no direct fatalities were reported by the NWS, the tornado caused property damage and major issues for Northeast Ohio. According to First Energy, the main utility company in Northeast Ohio, 155,000 households, including many community members in Cleveland Heights, lost power.

The NWS later said, in an email to The Observer, that they were able to confirm nine tornado related events in Northeast Ohio. Still, “it is possible we may have a couple more confirmed tornadoes as surveys continue over the next few days.”

Dean Tufts, the vice president of campus facilities and management, noted that the impact of the storms was minimal. “We had a relatively small amount of water enter a handful of buildings (maybe 10 total) after the high winds and heavy rain,” he said.

He notes that “the impact was much less severe than after previous storms; we had done extensive work to clean drains, ensuring water-tight building envelopes and other measures.”

While its impact to the campus community was minimal, it drove fear at Case Western Reserve University and panic among students, especially after a second notification was sent via the Spartan Safe app.

Third-year student Kethan Srinivasan, who lives in on-campus housing, remembered that the alarm “was blaring, so [it] woke [him] up.”

“I heard shaking, I heard the windows in my flat physically shake and at that point,” he said about his experience. “When we were getting to the stairs, we saw outside the window that a tree had fallen down outside the building, [and] at that point I was like yikes, this is very serious. I was pretty cautious if they were going to send another alert later that night.”

Sandra Mackey, the public affairs program manager of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, recommends “seek[ing] shelter in the lowest level possible or the center room of a building. Closets and bathrooms are also good choices for sheltering. Look for smaller rooms with as few windows as possible.”

Though, for CWRU students, this caused some confusion.

Kethan said, “There should be more adequate instruction for [on-campus] residents, with not every building on campus built in the same way; it does give me some concern. What should I be doing to prepare for an emergency?”

Paige Herron, the assistant director of emergency management in CWRU’s Public Safety department, gave some sound advice: “In the event of severe weather, go to the lowest level of the building. If you cannot make it to the lowest level, stay away from windows by going into the hallway or bathroom. Sign up for Cuyahoga County Ready Notify by [CodeRED] to receive notifications about weather alerts. If you are notified to shelter in place, adhere to the warning. Also, before a storm strikes is the best time to find the location where you would shelter if the need arises.

Mackey said, “Always plan ahead so that when an incident occurs, you’re ready.”


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About the Contributor
Zachary Treseler
Zachary Treseler, News Editor
Zachary Treseler is a third-year student majoring in international studies and economics, with minors in art history and French. Outside of writing to The Observer (sometimes at the last minute), you might be able to catch them walking backwards around campus, in Northeast Ohio's various bookstores, or seeing a show at Playhouse Square. Zachary also makes fudge…sometimes.

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