La Plata residents recall 2002 F-4 tornado that killed 5, injure - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

La Plata residents recall 2002 F-4 tornado that killed 5, injured over 100

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It was 11 years ago last April 28th that the worst tornado in Maryland's history tore through the tiny town of La Plata, Md.

Seeing the death and destruction in Moore, Okla., is bringing back painful memories.

Five people were killed in the storm and more than 100 injured in La Plata. The storm cut a swath through the town, ripping the roofs off houses, lifting cars and flattening buildings.

Mayor Roy Hale, who was a member of the Town Council then, says 65 percent of the town's businesses were destroyed. Important landmarks are gone forever. Thanks to assistance from the state and local governments, the town has been almost completely rebuilt.

Chris Thompson, Assistant Chief of Charles County Emergency Services, says the twister barely missed their 911 center. He says frightened dispatchers were underneath consoles, but sprang into action sending out emergency help.

Officials say they learned lessons from the storm, including the need for early warning systems. The town now has emergency sirens, and there is a county citizen notification system that sends out emails about severe weather alerts. La Plata also now has special operations teams trained in finding people when there is a structural collapse.

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