1. Archive

Tornado deposits checks miles away

The tornado that ripped the roof off Derrel and Loretta Gordon's home in Pinellas Park on Saturday sucked their canceled checks from the attic and deposited them as far north as Hernando County, 50 miles away.

"I got a call (Saturday) from someone in Spring Hill who found one of the checks," Loretta Gordon said Sunday. "They wanted to know if I wanted it back; I told them I was just keeping them for insurance purposes, and they could keep it as a souvenir."

Gordon and her family do not have much left but souvenirs. A tornado smashed in one side of her house in Beacon Run subdivision and tore away the garage and an attic above it.

"We have no house anymore," she said. "Right now we're just taking out what we can."

Checks also fluttered down over Pasco County.

Sixteen-year-old Melissa Tiraco of the Shadow Ridge area of Hudson found one of the Gordons' canceled checks outside her bedroom window. Later, her 13-year-old sister Erica saw a picture of Derrel Gordon in the St. Petersburg Times, showing him surveying the tornado damage to a neighbor's house.

"That's when Erica said she knew who Derrel Gordon was," Melissa said.

Two other west Pasco residents also found the Gordons' checks. Darlene DellaCava found a 1979 check in the middle of the street outside her home off State Road 54 in New Port Richey.

Shirley Blazier found one in the yard of her home in the Viva Villas area of Hudson.

It is more than 25 miles from Pinellas Park to New Port Richey and about 10 more miles to Hudson. Spring Hill is another 15 miles north.

Loretta Gordon was at work when the tornado hit, but Gordon and their 20-year-old son, Grey, were home. They escaped injury by lying under a mattress in the spare bedroom as windows blew out all around them.

Loretta Gordon said the storm also took baby pictures of her son and some Christmas memorabilia.

"It shows you what power something like that has," she said.