Covered roofs, fallen trees, blocked roads: A tornado swept across the north of East Frisia and challenged the local fire departments. More than 50 houses damaged – some even uninhabitable. A video shows the hurricane.
Torn-off house gables, overturned vehicles and countless pieces of debris from roofs and fences testify to the force with which a tornado moved over the community of Grobheide in East Frisia. Miraculously, no one was injured, said the fire department spokesman for the Aurich district, Manuel Goldenstein, on Tuesday.
More than 50 homes were damaged by the hurricane Monday night, according to the report. The German Weather Service (DWD) confirmed that it was a moderate tornado.
"Based on eyewitnesses and video footage, we can clearly say it was a tornado last night," DWD tornado expert Andreas Friedrich said Tuesday.
DWD classifies tornado as medium severe
According to this, the tornado had estimated rotational speeds between 180 and 250 kilometers per hour and a diameter of several dozen up to 100 meters. It was classified as medium-severe in class F2 – such tornadoes are comparatively rare in Germany, explained Friedrich. On average, between 20 and 60 tornadoes are recorded in Germany every year. Previously, other weather sites on the net, such as Tornadoliste.de, the storm classified as a tornado.
The extent of the damage in the municipality of Grobheide, which has about 8500 inhabitants, could not yet be fully foreseen on Tuesday. Mayor Fredy Fischer reported that the storm event had left a devastation that stretched through the Berumerfehn district to the neighboring Ostermoordorf district. It is already clear that some houses are beyond repair. "It’s catastrophic," Fischer said.
Johann Graver and his family from Berumerfehn were also hit by the tornado. Where the front gable of his family home used to be, there are only remnants of insulating mats and wooden beams hanging down. In front of Graver’s driveway, the hurricane toppled a mobile home. "At that moment, everything cracked in our house, too," Graver said. The windows had blown open.
"It all happened so fast"
His 21-year-old daughter, who was on the second floor when the storm hit, had the presence of mind to take cover, he said. "It all happened so fast."
In addition to devastated front yards and covered houses, the more than 100 firefighters from surrounding fire departments also had to clear numerous downed trees from roads. For this purpose, companies from the community also arrived with tractors and wheel loaders.
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Only with difficulty could his comrades have made their way to their own firehouse, reported fire department spokesman Goldenstein. "It was a sheer mess that had to be cleaned up." There has never been a similar storm in the Aurich district before. Individual gas, water, and power lines were also damaged by fallen trees. Technicians were on the job to secure utility lines.
Onlookers obstruct emergency personnel
After emergency workers had already begun during the night to remove initial storm damage and provisionally secure buildings, cleanup efforts got into full swing on Tuesday. Mayor Fischer said that the willingness of the population to help was very great. He said there are many people "who just pitch in". Roofers and construction companies were on hand to repair the damage. Homeowners swept up rubble.
However, rescue workers and helpers also had to deal with onlookers who came to the affected districts on Tuesday. The municipality and firefighters had to close off roads because of it. Mayor Fischer appealed to onlookers not to come to the operation sites so that the cleanup work would not be hindered.