Largo, FL Tornado Damage, Aug 1976


Largo, Fla. (AP) -- "Our trailer rolled six times. When it was over, I thought my husband was dead," ROXANNE SCHWADRON said after a tornado struck a community of mobile homes for retirees, killing one and injuring a dozen others.
"Big sheets of metal were coming straight at us," MRS. SCHWADRON said. "We just grabbed each other's arms and hit the floor."
When the wind stopped, 30 mobile homes lay in soggy ruins and 70 others were damaged in this Florida Gulf Coast city of 55,000.
Utility poles were upended and some 20,000 homes in a two-square-mile area were reported temporarily without electricity.
Police said 12 persons were injured when the tornado -- one element of a storm that dumped a half-inch of rain in one hour -- struck an area including four mobile home parks. Three were severely damaged, one sustained minor damage.
The only known victim was identified as JUDITH BEANDET, 78, who was inside her mobile home when it was ripped apart by the twister.
The SCHWADRONS, on vacation from Mars, Pa., near Pittsburgh, had just returned from grocery shopping. Their children NIKKI, 9; CORRY, 11 and TIMMY, 15, were playing frisbee outside the trailer when they saw red sheets of metal flying through the air.
"It looked like roofing," MRS. SCHWADRON said in a telephone interview. "None of the natives seemed worried, so we weren't at first. But I looked again and there was metal, scraps and debris headed straight for out window.
"We didn't know what it was. But we were in its path, that was for sure."
The children came inside the 25-foot trailer and everybody grabbed hands and hit the floor.
"We rolled and rolled," MRS. SCHWADRON said.
"I couldn't believe it. Every time we rolled I would hurt because something else would hit me. We kept screaming each other's names."
"When it stoopped I looked up and the whole back end of the trailer was gone. The roof was ripped out. I found JIM; his eyes were opened, his eyelids back. Blood was all over his face. His legs were up and a table was on top of him and a food cupboard was lying on his chest."
"I thought he was dead."
As the children helped, MRS. SCHWADRON began to pull debris from her husband. She said someone later took him to the hospital but it was not until later that she learned by telephone that he was alive.
"I talked to him. He was alright," MRS. SCHWADRON said.

Naples Daily News Florida 1976-08-13