“It was apocalyptic,” said Katey Deppeler, describing the scene last week when a late morning tornado ripped through Doylestown Township, wreaking havoc on their property and across the region.
UPDATE: A GoFundMe site has been set up for the family. DONATE HERE >>
For the Deppelers, the day began like any other Tuesday. Jeremy, 41, went to work, where he’s the maintenance supervisor for Bucks County and Katey, 31, headed to the grocery store and the family’s babysitter, Brianna Bullock, was on hand to watch the kids, ages 4, 3 and 1. By the time Katey returned from shopping, the world around her was changing fast.
“All you could see (was) white,” said the former operating room nurse. Jeremy was calling, as he tried to get home. “He told us to get in the basement.”
Gathering up the children and Molly, the family’s English springer spaniel, Brianna and Katey headed to the finished basement of their split level house. It was about 11 a.m., recalled Katey, “My ears started popping like crazy. The front door flew open. I truly thought it was on top of our house.”
In some 30 seconds, it was over.
Coming upstairs was surreal, said the mother-of-three. The heavily treed property had been decimated, revealing homes behind their house that they’d never seen before. “Basically, a curtain of trees was gone. Only dead trees were standing.”
Every screen from the second story “screen room” had been ripped off. The home’s roof appeared to have shifted. “I think the roof was lifted up, then set down again, but off the front columns,” said Katey. “The birdhouse was on top of the roof.”
Outside, utility poles littered the ground. The pool had become the resting place for the children’s toys. The neighbor’s trampoline had flown across the yard.
Among the many strange things created by a tornado’s extreme drop in pressure is the explosion of just about anything closed tightly. The items Katey had left in the car’s trunk from her grocery trip, included. Large bottles of vegetable oil, dishwashing soap and hand soap erupted. “It’s such a mess,” she said.
That’s pretty minor compared to the literal disaster on their property, where, Jeremy estimates, more than 40 trees were severed by the storm. He’s spent days with a chain saw cutting and cutting. On Friday, he suffered a setback in his seemingly endless task when the saw slipped and Katey had to take him to the emergency room for 11 stitches.
Of course, the family is grateful, and somewhat shocked, that no one was seriously injured. Had Katey still been working at Doylestown Hospital, the kids would have been at the day care center there. The tornado smashed into the building, destroying its roof. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured there, either.
At first, Brianna had thought she might make it home before the weather got worse. Fortunately, she decided to stay with the Deppelers. Outside, two trees had fallen on her car – one on the front hood, the second on the trunk.
“Just think if she had been walking to her car,” said Katey.