A Cool Ridge family survived a high wind that blew the roof off their home on Saturday.
“It was really fast,” said Anna Bryant, the homeowner. “We were just in shock.”
Bryant said she and her husband, Robert Bryant, were hosting their daughter and 2-year-old granddaughter at their Pack Road home in Cool Ridge. The day had been windy, with gusts, but Bryant said their home is situated at the top of a ridge, where strong winds are common.
“We were just hanging out, having some family time,” said Bryant. “I was laying in bed, playing with my granddaughter.”
Around 8:30 p.m., rain started, and the wind “picked up a little more.” Bryant could hear the rain pelting the windows.
Suddenly, she said, there was a “roar.”
“It was so loud,” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what was that?’”
The words had barely left Bryant’s mouth when she and other members of the family heard the sound of wood splitting.
The lights went dark, said Bryant, and the room was “shaking.”
Robert told everyone to get to the basement. He grabbed the baby and ushered the rest of the family downstairs, but Bryant had to check on her elderly father.
“I’m his caretaker,” she explained. “He was already in bed, trying to sleep.”
The house was pitch-dark as she made her way to his room.
“I opened the door,” she recalled. “It’s black at this point, because we have no lights. I can’t see anything. I can’t see him. The wind was swirling in there, so loud.”
She saw the roof and ceiling were gone in her dad’s room.
“I kept saying, ‘Dad! Dad! Dad!,’” Bryant reported. “He kept saying, ‘I’m all right, I’m all right.’
“Somehow, the debris fell all around his bed, in a circle, but did not touch his bed.”
From the door to her dad’s bed was about five feet. Bryant said the space was littered with debris.
In the dark room, she could sense papers and other objects swirling as she made her way to her father and helped him to the basement.
“I was convinced it was a tornado,” she said. “It lasted too long for a gust.
“It felt like it lasted for an eternity,” Bryant added. “I’m sure it wasn’t, but it took me at least three minutes to get him out of the room.
“We’ve had gusts before, and it didn’t last that long. It didn’t rip my roof off.”
None of the family were injured, and the family’s dogs inside the home were safe.
Once they came out of the basement, the Bryants discovered that the back of their home had ceilings and electricity, but the front of their house did not. Bryant called 911 while her husband began to walk along the ridge to check on the neighbors. All were OK.
Outside, the family could see that their entire roof was gone.
Their deck is made of hardwood pine, but Bryant saw that a 4-inch piece of chipped wood board from the attic had become embedded into the hard pine.
It’s not really strong,” she said. “It’s pressed-particle kind of board.
“It’s embedded into a hardwood pine deck. That’s just things you see with tornadoes.”
National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Tony Edwards said Monday that NWS had not yet surveyed the damage at Bryant’s home, although the team is aware of the incident.
He said it is likely that a “straight wind” and not a tornado took away the Bryants’ roof and ceilings.
“I can’t say, definitively, and I’m not sure; if I looked at the damages, I could say definitely, one way or the other,” he said. “But we haven’t heard of eyewitness accounts of tornadoes.”
Edwards said that Beckley was hit suddenly and without much warning on Saturday evening by strong gusts of wind across Raleigh County.
“That storm kind of snuck up on us,” Edwards explained. “It really strengthened and broke, right over Beckley.
“We didn’t have a warning out on it.”
Raleigh Emergency Operations dispatchers said Monday that they had reports of power outages and downed telephone poles and wires throughout the county on Saturday.
American Electric Power reported various outages throughout Raleigh County, including East Beckley.
Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beaver showed a wind gust had measured 63 miles per hour on its radar.
Edwards said winds of 60 to 70 mph likely tore through the county, and a gust of that strength would be enough to take off a roof.
“You guys certainly got the worst of it, down there in Beckley.”
Bryant said Ghent Fire Department and other emergency entities responded to her house Saturday.
On Monday, an insurance adjuster, an engineer and a contractor were at the house to assess the damage. She is hoping insurance will cover most of the cost.
“I guess we’ll know after this engineer goes through, (whether), hey, you can build back up, or you can’t,” she said. “He’s checking out the foundation.”
She did not have an estimate of the repairs on Monday afternoon.
“He’s not done, so we have no idea,” Bryant said. “You know what a roof costs, so you can imagine roof, ceiling and inside damage.
“I don’t really want to think about that,” she said. “We’re just kind of spinning around, trying to find out what happens next.”
American Red Cross checked on the family Saturday and Monday and announced plans to continue monitoring their situation, said Bryant.
A silver lining has been the support her family has gotten, she said.
“The outreach from friends and neighbors just offering help, bringing a cup of coffee, has been amazing,” Bryant reported. “So we’ve been really blessed with good friends and neighbors and even strangers offering help.”