Monday, July 24, 2017 began like most days. Midnight passed with little fanfare. However? That was about to change. Weather was brewing just to the west of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. About 1:30 am, this developing weather system broke upon Kent Island, bringing wicked vengeance. It’s fury was unleashed upon Stevensville, on Kent Island. In the matter of just a few minutes, fear and incredible property damage would reign in it’s wake. Trees would be blown over and uprooted, electrical wires would be torn down and utility poles splintered like kindling. Roofs of houses, businesses and churches would be completely torn off, exposing the insides. In some cases, whole structures would be demolished.
The emergency response was swift and efficient. The Kent Island Volunteer Fire Company would be the first dispatched, along with mutual aid companies immediately around their area. Eventually, the Chestertown VFC would be asked to provide assistance and support. Along with personnel, our Brush Truck and ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) would respond. The response distance for us is about 45 minutes. Because of the significant damage, access by full-sized vehicles was nearly to completely impossible. Upon arrival, using our ATV, we were assigned to sweep and clear a particular street of Bay City, the neighborhood hardest hit. This street was among the first hit by the tornado, later determined by the National Weather Service to be an F2 on the Fujita Scale of tornado intensity.
The primary responsibility of our personnel was to verify life safety of those residents immediately impacted by this storm and address any immediate property safety concerns, such as leaking propane gas tanks. Once the immediate concerns had been addressed, our personnel helped with damage assessment.
In addition, using our ATV, one of the tasks our personnel assisted with is transporting media representatives into and around the disaster area, to view and photograph the damage.
In hindsight, along with everyone else, we find it astonishing there was only one injury and no fatalities . The incredible fury offered by this storm seems to have guaranteed lost of life, yet there was none. The one and only injury embodied in this whole incident was deemed non-life threatening.
Photographs by members of the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company