“You ever seen ‘Wizard of Oz?'” It looked just like that, said David Joseph, describing the tornado that touched down in Annapolis, Maryland, on Wednesday afternoon.
It sounded “like a freight train,” Joseph and co-worker Brian McLaughlin said.
They were trying to close the bay doors when they saw the tornado coming. McLaughlin said he saw a big piece of plywood coming through the air.
The radar-confirmed tornado — one of two reported Wednesday — came as the remnants of Hurricane Ida slammed the D.C. region, bringing the threat of tornadoes and flash flooding.
“We’re seeing shingles getting ripped off all the roofs right here. See it touch down right here,” Joseph said.
McLaughlin said they had just minutes, having received a tornado warning on the phone just a minute or two earlier. He said they went back to work “because it usually never comes.” But when they looked outside, “it was just kind of odd the way everything was just blowing through the air. And that’s when we realized there was a tornado right next to us,” McLaughlin said.
There are reports of substantial damage and trees down from Central Avenue in Edgewater to West Street in Annapolis, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said, but no injuries reported as of yet associated with the storm.
We are working with Anne Arundel County and City of Annapolis officials to assess the damage and determine what further resources are needed on the ground.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) September 1, 2021
CBS News reported that some 2,500 were without power, four buildings had severe damage and one person was trapped but was able to get out.
Annapolis resident Steve Adams was heading toward downtown Annapolis when the storm damage stopped him in his tracks.
“There was a bunch more downed power lines. They’d already cleaned it up for the most part, but it looks like lots of, you know, metal roofing and insulation materials, like you’ll often see if a … tornado … actually touches down,” Adams told WTOP.
“The wind was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It came up very, very quickly. It’s bad. It’s much worse than I could have imagined from my house,” Edgewater resident Amy Freedman said.
She said the tornado went by quickly, probably lasting 10 to 15 seconds.
Anne Arundel County Fire Department spokesman Russ Davies said there are a lot of homes with some structural damage from trees that have fallen in the area that correlates to where the tornado was reported.
“Fortunately, at this point, we’re not seeing any reports of injuries. We do have many trees down lots of wires down,” Davies said.
“I would say compared to other instances that we’ve experienced in the county, this is more widespread. This has a bigger footprint than what we’ve seen previously spread out over a larger area.”
More than 100 homes were damaged in the county.
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley is grateful that there has been no reports of injuries.
“It’s unbelievable that there isn’t because if you can come to the scene here, if you’re anywhere near me, you’ll see windows blown out from shops. You will see roofs in the middle of the street, trees down. I’m amazed that no one was here, but I’m so so grateful, Buckley said.
It will be a few days before it is known how much damage has been wrought, “but we definitely know that some of these businesses aren’t going to be operating for a while. And that some people aren’t going to be going back to their houses for a while, as well,” Buckley said.
West Street could be closed until midday Thursday, as crews clean up the area overnight, the mayor said. At some point, he said some 2,000 homes lost power.
Elsewhere, Anne Arundel County schools spokesman Bob Mosier said staff sheltered in place as the tornado warning was announced. School has not started yet in the county, so “we didn’t have 80,000 students to move around and shelter,” he said.
Mosier said there are damages reported, including the concession stand in the South River High School in the stadium itself, and damage at the Center of Applied Technology.
“We have engineers and folks there now assessing that situation,” Mosier said.
Watch NBC Washington’s coverage.
Buckley praised the warning system, saying that everyone knew it was coming and sheltered in place.
“We did everything we could, but you know, Mother Nature is going to do what it does. And it, today, wreaked a lot of havoc on West Street and the broad community,” Buckley said.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan and Dick Uliano, who reported from Annapolis, contributed to this report.