- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Officials in Prince George's and Howard counties yesterday tried to assess the damage of a tornado that ripped through the area Monday evening, killing two sisters studying at the University of Maryland and leaving thousands without electricity in its wake.
Colleen Marlatt, a 23-year-old senior majoring in environmental policy, and her sister, Erin, a 20-year-old sophomore studying sociology, were killed in their car outside Easton Hall dormitory at the university when the twister overturned the vehicle, Prince George's County fire officials said. The sisters' father, F. Patrick Marlatt, is the university's second commander of the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and also was injured during the tornado.
In addition, a 78-year-old volunteer firefighter who assisted at the scene after the twister dissipated apparently died of a heart attack after his shift. Clarence Kreitzer of the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department had operated large lights at the scene and died during the drive home.
About 50 other people were injured during the twister, which touched ground about 5:30 p.m. Monday.
After deploying 100 workers to assess damage and repair lines, Potomac Electric Power Co. (Pepco) had restored power to 12,000 customers as of 5 p.m. yesterday. More than 8,000 remained without power.
"Major sections of Pepco's infrastructure will have to be rebuilt, so for the 8,000 left in the dark, it could be a couple days more before power is restored," said spokesman Robert Dobkin.
As residents yesterday began cleaning up splintered trees, broken windows and crumpled cars, Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening flew over the area to view the extent of the damage, which is estimated to be several millions of dollars. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, toured the damaged grounds of the university.
Monday night, Mr. Glendening declared a state of emergency in the areas hardest hit by the twister.
Much of the damage occurred to properties and wooded areas in and around College Park, along with several outdoor university facilities, parked cars and two residence halls.
Students yesterday watched as more than 300 cars, some with broken windows and others totaled, were removed by campus police and hundreds of contracted workers. Debris was gathered in piles and trucked out while workers in cherry pickers cut remaining tree limbs for mulching.
Pallotti High School in Laurel sustained heavy damage. Part of the school's roof was torn off and many of its windows were shattered. St. Mary's of the Mill and St. Mark Catholic churches both suffered roof damage.
Prince George's County schools Superintendent Iris T. Metts canceled all classes yesterday, as did the University of Maryland, which sustained massive damage to its campus.
Meanwhile, 43 homes in southern Howard County were decimated.
"The most amazing thing Monday wasn't the tornado," said Eric Ziolkowski, manager of the Home Depot at Cherry Hill Plaza.
"I had over 100 workers and customers in here when sections of the roof blew off, wood and drywall were flying around out back, and our storage trailer flipped over and landed on our backup generator. But not one person was injured," he said.
Mr. Ziolkowski said his store would be closed for at least three days. In the interim, the Hyattsville, Silver Spring and Bowie Home Depots will be open 24 hours.
The National Weather Service classified Monday's tornado as an F3, meaning it had sustained winds of 150 mph to 178 mph.
The College Park tornado was one of two that struck the metropolitan area on Monday.
A twister that touched ground earlier in Virginia shattered a hilltop vacation home in Culpeper County.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide