Jasper residents weather deadly Romanian storm

Cornel Putan/Associated Press
Emergency workers stood around a car that was destroyed by a traffic sign that fell due to heavy winds killing the driver in Timisoara, Romania on Sunday following a deadly storm that affected the west part of the country. Authorities say eight people died and at least 30 were injured during the violent storm that produced winds of up to 60 miles an hour.

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

TIMISOARA, Romania — A deadly storm tore through Timisoara, Romania Sunday, and a handful of Jasper residents experienced it firsthand.

The Kimball Electronics employees from the headquarters in Jasper are visiting the company’s plant in Timisoara — a city on Romania’s west side — this week. They arrived Saturday, the day before the storm that killed eight Romanians hit.

Jim Stone is one of the Jasper residents in Romania this week as part of an IT project. He watched the storm roll in from his third-story hotel room.

“A giant dust cloud had formed which made me immediately think of a desert sand storm,” Stone recalled via email. “I can only compare the strength to a typhoon I had experienced while stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 1984. Debris and leaves swirled at times, but seeing ceramic tiles flying off of nearby roofs almost had me convinced it was a tornado.”

Most news sources have simply called the storm “a powerful storm,” but media company Al Jazeera identified it as a wind storm.

The storm brought winds up to 60 miles per hour that uprooted trees, flipped over cars and tore clay tiles off roofs in the centuries-old European city.

Jason King, who works in Kimball Electronics’ internal audit department in Jasper, is also in Romania. He said from his window overlooking an alley, it appeared as though it was raining clay tiles. “The wind coming down the alley definitely sounded like a tornado,” King said.

The infrastructure isn’t as advanced as in the U.S., Stone said. The city has an old European look, and Stone described some areas as having the Soviet era block buildings.

When the storm hit, it knocked out electricity and water services, according to news reports.

Although their hotel lost power for about six hours, King said the storm wasn’t stressful for the visitors from Jasper. They remained safely indoors, and none of the Kimball Electronics facilities were damaged. The same could not be said, however, for the city.

After the storm, the group took an Uber from their hotel to a local restaurant, Stone said. The ride through the city showed the storm’s destruction. Clay roof tiles littered the ground, trees had been uprooted and parked vehicles had broken windshields. Many of the buildings had holes in the roofs and broken windows. Stone said he’d never seen anything like it in an urban area. Neither had the Romanians.

“I think it was more traumatic for the citizens because of the death toll,” King said. “They claim nothing like this has ever happened in Timisoara.”

Immediately after the storm, King and Stone recalled seeing people out cleaning up the streets.

“The people are incredibly resilient here,” Stone said. “On our daily commute to our facility, and even walking in the evenings, you can see where cleanup has begun. Things don’t appear to stand still here, just done at a little slower pace.”

The Jasper employees are scheduled to return home Friday.




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