I realize I’ve got the wrong month in mind when I say “May came in like a lion.” However, that’s what happened in 1983 as a number of twisters moved through our region, leaving plenty of damage behind in their trails. Add some melting snow and heavy rain, and scenes of cleanups were widespread 30 years ago this month.
A northerly storm began moving through a narrow stretch of our region on the evening of Monday, May 2. Shortly after 10 p.m.,, a tornado reportedly leveled a house and barn near Echo Lake, between Afton and Coventryville near state Route 41.
The same storm flipped over a trailer, knocked down a barn silo and tore the roof off a home near Bainbridge, according to Chenango County Fire Control. Several downed trees blocking back roads, reportedly hindered Bainbridge firefighters’ attempts to reach portions of the damaged areas.
About an hour later, the narrow path of the storm hit the town of Davenport, doing its biggest damage on Charlotte Creek Road. Several homes, barns and garages were mangled and twisted as they were blasted with high winds and twisters.
Lewis Garrison of Charlotte Creek Road said he gathered his family together when he heard a twister approaching.
“All I heard was the wind,” Garrison told The Daily Star. “I was ready to cash in all my chips.” A dairy farmer, Garrison said none of his 50 cows was injured in the barn after the twister hit. “I’ll rebuild somehow … but I’m definitely staying in business,” he said.
Kurt and Elizabeth Neunzig were in bed when the ceiling of their one-story home, off Charlotte Creek Road, crashed in on top of them. Neither was seriously injured.
It had taken Kurt Neunzig two years to build their retirement home and it was destroyed in less than five minutes. He’d built the house and a barn in 1972 from lumber made from nearby trees.