Deadly Tornado Hits Southern Maryland
People fled the building. A woman shouted to Barnes to grab her baby. He picked up the child, and the woman snatched up her other two young children. Together, all five ran out the back of the restaurant, Barnes said.
Mark Bennett, 41, of Baltimore had just walked out of the KFC when the storm struck. The windows blew out on his Ford Explorer. It was, he said, "like someone was shooting them with a shotgun." As soon as he could, he said, he ran into the restaurant to help pull people out.
Some residents reported hearing a roar like that of a freight train as the tornado struck. Others glimpsed a funnel cloud in advance of any sound.
"We didn't hear anything," said Nick Cusato, 50, a retired newspaper delivery worker who was on his way back to Waldorf with his wife, Joyce, after a week-long trip to Florida.
"We just saw it" as they drove a rented pickup truck along Route 301, Nick Cusato said. "It was a big twister . . . coming down hard, throwing roofs off of everything in its path."
The wind flipped over the Cusatos' truck, and Joyce Cusato was flung onto the asphalt along the highway.
"We couldn't get away," Nick Cusato said.
La Plata resident Debbie Knott, 41, saw the funnel cloud from relatively close by.
She was washing clothes at a coin laundry on Route 301 when she saw the cloud racing down the road, collapsing roadside billboards and overturning cars.
"It wasn't a perfect funnel," she said. "It was moving all over the place. The doors were shaking, but I didn't hear that typical roar."
Richard Rhode, who lives on East Patuxent Drive, about a mile southeast of downtown La Plata, said he looked up to see a cloud with swirling debris that began at the treetops.
"My wife and I just grabbed the dog and headed for the basement," Rhode said.
About two miles northeast of downtown, a La Plata resident reported little damage.
"All we had was baseball-sized hail and lots of wind," said Pat Day, who was in the Kings Grant section.
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