The people of Kensington did not need a meteorologist to tell them that Thursday afternoon's weird weather was not just heavy winds, but a bona fide tornado:
Kathy Fern Shipp looked out the window and realized that the swirling clouds outside were making her dizzy. Then a picnic table flew by.
Anne Naclerio stood petrified in her living room while trees fell on the house and the windows blew in.
"It's like total chaos has come," said Kyung-Koo Kang, who pried open his kitchen cabinet and saw a tree trunk where the oregano and soy sauce should have been.
In the wake of the most severe weather to strike the region since a bruising windstorm in June 1989, residents of Montgomery and Baltimore counties in Maryland and Fauquier, Orange and King William counties in Virginia spent yesterday swapping tornado stories, clearing away the trees and trying to assess the damage.
One death was attributed to the storm, which spawned five tornados in the region.
In King William County, about 40 miles from Richmond, Russell Marin, 73, was killed after the barn he was seeking shelter in collapsed Thursday evening, the county sheriff said.
Crews worked to clear away trees and debris in the streets as Potomac Electric Power Co. utility crews sought to restore power to about 6,000 customers in Kensington, Silver Spring, Bethesda and the District. By midnight, all power had been restored.
Nearly 800 Virginia Power Co. customers in Herndon and Alexandria were without power yesterday morning. Early today, the number of customers without power was only five. No serious damage or injuries were reported in Northern Virginia, according to local police and fire departments.
With Kensington's streets clogged by downed trees and cleanup crews, some school buses were unable to pick up children in the Wheaton and Kensington areas.
The National Weather Service said the powerful storm system caused winds of up to 175 miles per hour at ground level in Orange County, where trees were uprooted and brick buildings leveled. Winds of 90 miles per hour hit the Fauquier County town of Remington, where tin roofs were ripped off houses.
In Kensington, Montgomery County officials said that 127 buildings were damaged, 10 of them severely. Although no firm figures were released, officials estimated the damage was much less than that of the 1989 storm that struck a large area in Chevy Chase and Bethesda.
"This is going to be a couple million -- by comparison, the 1989 storm resulted in about $25 million in damages," said Kathleen Henning, emergency management coordinator for Montgomery County. She said the county had not ruled out seeking state or federal assistance.
Just as after last year's storm, hordes of handymen descended on the stricken neighborhoods, vying for jobs hauling away downed trees.
"We left at 4:30 this morning because we knew there would be a lot of work," said Ron Clatterbuck, of Winchester Woods Tree Service in Winchester.
Some residents complained about getting calls as early as 7:30 a.m. from eager tree-haulers. "We've got a stack of cards this thick," said Shipp, of Kensington.
The tornado that hit Reisterstown near Baltimore cut a narrow swath through a tree-lined neighborhood of detached homes and apartment buildings and injured nine people, one seriously. The tornado ripped the roofs off several apartment units and required the evacuation of 59 residents, Baltimore County police said. Some residents were allowed to return to their homes later to retrieve belongings, police said. But at least eight apartment units were condemned as unsafe, and their occupants were barred from entry. No estimate of damages was available yesterday.
Of the 59 people evacuated, 40 found refuge with friends and relatives. The remaining 19 were taken to a Days Inn in Westminster 10 miles away.
Storms associated with the tornado knocked out electrical power in 81,000 homes and businesses in areas of western Baltimore County, southern Carroll County and northern Howard County, according to Peggy Mulloy, spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. About 5,000 BG&E customers were still without power yesterday, she said, and were not expected to have it restored until about midnight. The company distributed dry ice in Reisterstown and Towson to residents trying to preserve perishable food during the outages, she said.
Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer toured Reisterstown late Thursday and said he thought local authorities could handle the situation and that the damage was not extensive enough to request federal disaster aid.
In Remington in Fauquier County, where a tornado raked through the one-block downtown, workers continued to clear rubble from the streets, and damage estimates were raised to $1.5 million, according to Town Council member Leo McCarthy.
About a half-dozen residents of the town of about 400 were put up overnight at a local church after the twister peeled the roofs from their homes, McCarthy said.
Staff writers Veronica T. Jennings, Claudia Levy, Paul W. Valentine and Michael Ybarra contributed to this report.