A man who lost the roof of his house in the Alfreton mini-tornado has been left “absolutely stunned”.
William Sitch was at work yesterday afternoon when a friend text him to say his home, on Catherine Street, had been hit by the horror twister.
Oli Constable, whose mum is William’s partner, told the Derbyshire Times: “He thought it was a joke when he got the text.
“He was absolutely stunned when he saw the house. He can’t believe what’s happened – nobody can believe what’s happened. We’re still taking it all in.
“You expect tornadoes in Hollywood films, not in Alfreton,” he added.
Oli said he and his mum Sandra, of Spital, found out about the drama when they saw a picture of the devastated house on the Derbyshire Times’ website.
He added: “Mum contacted William after seeing the picture and asked him how he was. He said, ‘I’m better than my house’.”
Thankfully, William’s house will not be demolished – although it will take up to seven months for the roof to be replaced.
Oli said: “The loft was very badly damaged but the other floors weren’t too affected which is extraordinary when you think about it.”
Four homes, including William’s, were severely damaged and dozens of other properties were affected by the twister, which struck at about 3.30pm. Cars were damaged and trees were uprooted.
Senior firefighter Dean Gazzard, station manager at Alfreton, said: “It’s a miracle nobody was seriously injured or killed in this incident.
“The mini-tornado left a trail of destruction as it travelled down the street.
“We often deal with cases of severe weather but I’ve never attended anything as serious as this,” he added.
Firefighters worked well into the night to attempt to retrieve personal belongings from a number of stricken properties.
Several residents whose homes were deemed structurally unsound stayed in temporary accommodation overnight and are now in the process of returning to their properties.
Volunteers with the British Red Cross and the Salvation Army have been at the scene providing emotional and practical support to traumatised residents as well as handing out food.
Mr Gazzard added: “The community has really pulled together to help each other in the face of this major incident.”
Residents on Catherine Street have told the Derbyshire Times of their shock at the drama.
Adam Broadley, 32, said: “I looked out of the window and for a moment I thought we were in the eye of a hurricane – everywhere was dark, it was windy and it was raining like mad.
“There were roof tiles and wood flying all around us.
“Thankfully our home hasn’t been damaged but I can see one house with a roof missing.
“There’s a lot of shock in the area – you don’t expect this type of thing to happen in the UK, let alone on your own street.”
Shelly Yeomans said: “Trees were being snapped like matchsticks and a branch hit one of my friend’s cars.
“Unbelievable, dramatic stuff.”
Another eyewitness said: “It was a terrifying day.”
Yvonne Bihari, who lives nearby, added: “I heard an almighty bang and wondered what on Earth had happened.
“We had a lucky escape.”
The Met Office said the mini-tornado was caused by unstable weather conditions.
A spokesman for the organisation said: “Although tornadic activity is by no means common across the UK, it does occur on occasions when the atmosphere is suitably volatile.”
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