‘Never had a tornado:’ Longview damage could reach $1 million

LONGVIEW, Wash. – People are picking up the pieces after a tornado ripped through this southwest Washington city on Thursday.

Six businesses were heavily damaged during the storm, but miraculously nobody was hurt.

Al Willis’ auto shop lost its roof – and the powerful winds tossed Al like a toy.

“Rips the door open, throws my butt on the floor,” he said Friday. “I watched the roof go, I don’t know where it went.”

Carl’s Towing was hit right before Al’s business. Crews spent Friday patching up the roof and the damage to the building is significant

“There was so much energy that it just literally peeled the exterior layer of brick off and just came tumbling down,” said Battalion Chief Troy Buzalsky of the Longview Fire Department.

“I could see the roof coming up and off and I was like, something is just seriously wrong there,” said Bradley Park, who watched the twister touch down.

Park and his co-workers ran for shelter when the twister roared toward his building.

“I mean literally, business to business, just taking them out,” he said.

“That funnel cloud came down, it picked up a beam as if it was a toothpick and it catapulted it, landing 100 yards away landing on the Sterling Building,” said Buzalksy.

The National Weather Service said the EF1 tornado’s winds raced up to 110 mph – and tore a path for more than a mile along 17th Avenue and Vandercook Way.

Officials said damages could reach $1 million -- but amazingly the storm didn’t hurt a soul.

“There’s no doubt this had sorts of fatal energy, we just got really, really lucky,” said Buzalsky.

“I’m just thankful that it didn’t hurt anybody,” said Longview Mayor Don Jensen. “We can fix roofs, we can fix walls. I’m glad nobody got hurt.”