May 21, 2024

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La Plata, Maryland, marks 20 years since fatal tornado

2 min read

Everyone who survived has a story they still carry about the twister that tore through the small town of about 9,000.

LA PLATA, Md. — The scars are easy to miss and the signs of the tornado from 20 years ago are mostly seen in what’s been rebuilt. But for those who were here the memories of the devastation are still haunting. 

“I thought to myself, ‘How are we ever going to recover from this?'” recalled La Plata Mayor Jeannine James from a stage outside the town hall. 

On Thursday, 20 years to the day, this small town of about 9,000 marked the biggest tornado to ever hit the D.C. region.

With winds pushing 200 miles per hour, the tornado killed five people, injured dozens and ripped up more than $100 million in homes and businesses.

“It was a wild scene,” remembered La Plata resident Rob Cox.

The town honored those lost and the countless number who came to help outside the town hall just across the street from Cox’s house where the tornado cut through just behind his backyard.

“You didn’t see an end to it. You didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said of the days after the massive storm.  

Anyone who was here will tell you everyone who survived has a story they still carry.

But it’s the story of their town since the tornado, that many seem most interested in telling – one of new city facilities, more businesses than were lost, and a community that’s made a comeback.

“The recovery efforts really just took this town to the next step. And I’m so proud to live here now. It’s unbelievable what it looks like now,” said Cox.

2022-04-29 16:23:41

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