Jerry Gould, 69, climbed out from underneath a kitchen table at a mobile home in Park Royale and went outside to survey the damage. Then he saw his friend, Chick McRath, buried in debris from his collapsed mobile home.
At least one, and perhaps both, of his legs were broken. "He was pinned from the waist down," Gould said. "We dug him out. Then put him on a mat. He was mainly concerned about his wife, Mary. He kept calling her."
His wife was sitting on steps on the other side of the elderly couple's mobile home, wrapped in a blanket. When she went toward her husband, he calmed down, Gould said.
He and several other people dug out two other neighbors who were pinned by debris from their mobile homes. They had to carry out a woman from a mobile home who was unable to get out of bed.
"I was bouncing around all over the place," Gould said. "It's amazing in the park how the people got together. Young kids _ they were pitching in."
Pinellas Park High
suffers heavy damage
The football field and roof of Pinellas Park High School, 6305 118th Ave. N, were hard hit by a twister. The school's exterior was littered with pieces of the roof, glass shears and pieces of metal crushed like aluminum foil.
About 40 students and eight teachers were there for Saturday morning programs when the tornado touched down, but no one was injured. Large chunks of the roof blew away or caved in, said custodian Alphonso Huntley. Workers from several area school districts and volunteers worked "from the inside out," cleaning up collapsed ceiling tile and water, Huntley said.
The school's football scoreboard, the driver's education tower and several trees were blown down, and a storage shed was nearly flattened, exposing shelves of office supplies.
Principal Alec Liem said didn't know whether the school's nearly 2,000 students would be returning to classes Monday. "I just can't determine that for sure until tomorrow," he said.
Deputies found a small brown-and-white greyhound wandering through the rubble at the Indian Rocks Mobile Home Park, where many homes were destroyed. Two of its legs were cut; the front left leg was gashed almost to the bone.
Lt. Larry Smith of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office comforted the dog and then carried it across a water-filled ditch to a patrol car, where other deputies brought bandages to bind its wound and keep it until Pinellas County Animal Control could retrieve the animal.
Her house started
shaking, then silence
For thirty seconds Saturday morning, 19-year-old Sylvia Sawyers, like many victims of the tornadoes, wondered whether she would live or die. "I was in the bathroom putting on my makeup when our entire house started shaking, then there was this dead silence," Sawyers said of a tornado that ripped the roof from her home in the Autumn Run subdivision in Pinellas Park. "When I looked up all I could see was gray sky. Everything else was gone," she said.
Times should be on
time, despite damage
It might have taken some extra effort, but the St. Petersburg Times should have arrived complete this morning to mid-Pinellas readers. Wally Hendry, a Times circulation administration manager, said the District 15 distribution center at Walsingham and Ulmerton roads was so badly damaged that he had to move some circulation operations. That meant some 10,000 inserts, including advertising, comics and some sections of the Sunday Times, had to be moved to drier areas.
Hendry said circulation workers would have to work out of another distribution center temporarily because the building had too much structural damage and wasn't safe to work in.
then the roof's gone
Ron Brody works as an electrician for Pinellas County, so he wasn't surprised to get a call at his Pinellas Park home Saturday morning. Someone from work was saying generators were needed near MacKay Creek because a tornado had touched down.
Then he heard the proverbial freight-train sound. "I rushed everyone into the bathroom," he said. The tornado slammed his house. "There was a pipe that came through one of the walls in the bathroom. I could see the sky, so I knew the roof was gone."
The destructive storm, coming as it did only six weeks after Hurricane Andrew devasted Dade County, got big play on at least one major news broadcast. CBS News led with a lengthy report on the damage, likening it to Andrew, followed by a report of President Bush's visit to Clearwater earlier in the day.
NBC News gave a report on the damage later in its newscast and ABC did not have a newscast because of its college football coverage. However, local channel WTSP-Ch. 10, the ABC affiliate, aired a special report on the damage at 7 p.m.
Children home alone
as twister strikes
Amy Brosnan, 13, and Jessica Sotomayor, 12, were home alone in Amy's home on Roble Avenue in Spring Hill, appropriately enough watching the video Home Alone, when the winds whipped up.
Amy's parents, Paul and Cathy Brosnan, had left briefly to shop for groceries when a twister touched down in Spring Hill around noon.
"The birds were screeching and the blinds were flying all over the place," Jessica said. Then the electricity went out. The winds intensified. "And we closed all the doors and windows and stayed calm," Jessica said. "It was scary."
When Amy's parents returned, they saw the surrounding wreckage. "Coming back, we thought, "Oh my Lord,'
" Paul Brosnan said. "We're blessed we got no damage."
Insurance was put off;
now it's too late
Lloyd Hughes didn't have a dime of insurance on his Pinellas Park trailer. Hughes, 77, had meant to get it renewed. "I kept putting it off."
He wasn't thinking much about insurance Saturday morning as he worked on the decorative reindeer baskets he makes for his church, Oakhurst United Methodist. "I was in the shop, it was pouring down rain. All of a sudden I heard this noise."
He whirled around and saw a black sky. "Stuff was twirling around through the air," he said. His wife, Daisy, said: "Oh my God, it's a tornado." "It just scared us so bad. We went into the bathroom, both of us crying," Hughes said. Saturday afternoon, he and his family covered the roof with a blue plastic tarp and began the long process of trying to rebuild.
to go on as planned
Events planned for today at the Beachfest celebration in St. Petersburg Beach will be held as scheduled, a police spokesman said.
Police said the tornado that damaged several blocks of Treasure Island on Saturday had no effect on festivities. The only change in schedule was a postponment of a fireworks display because of gusty winds.
_ Times staff writers Brian Chichester, Anne Glover, Wendy Lemus, Sabrina Miller, Sharon Kirby Lamm, Curtis Krueger and Mark Journey contributed to this report.