After the Port Orchard tornado: Door-to-door search

Residents were urged to leave, and a drone was used to survey the damage.

PORT ORCHARD — Just after a tornado had passed on Tuesday, John Wagner went door-to-door along Harris Road Southeast checking on residents and advising them that, due to a gas leak, law enforcement was advising residents evacuate.

Wagner said he was the owner of Wagner Roofing and Construction and that he was willing to offer the services of a five-man crew to place tarps at houses damaged by the tornado in an attempt to fight back further damage from the torrential rain that followed.

Wagner was not alone in his desire to help out. While walking between law enforcement vehicles along Bethel Road, Wagner was joined by David Mullins. Mullins explained that having moved to the area from Illinois, he was no stranger to tornadoes. Approaching a group of emergency responders near the Bethel Saloon, the pair were told to turn back and directed to a command post at a nearby Walmart parking lot.

At the make-shift command post, emergency responders were huddled together discussing a plan of action. Among those responders was Sgt. Dan Twomey with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. Twomey was prepping one of the sheriff’s office’s recently-acquired drones to go out and survey the damage.

“It’s already been up a little bit, but we’re going to put it back up here in a little bit. We want to make sure that we’ve covered all the areas we need to cover and assess the damage in the area,” Twomey said. “We’re still in the very early stages of this. The fire department and the power company and the gas companies are working hard to secure power lines and make sure that we don’t have any gas leaks to deem the area safe.”

“We have gone door-to-door in the neighborhoods off of Harris, where we believe most of the damage has occurred,” Twomey added.

Huddled in an alcove behind a Safeway, seeking some respite from the rain, was Matt Freet. Freet is the general manager and part owner of Herban Market Cannabis Company in Port Orchard. The building housing Freet’s business was damaged by the tornado, leaving him wondering what happens next.

“My business partner, his car’s totaled,” Freet said. “The warehouse behind us, it got hit first as the tornado came through and the whole building just melted and wrecked everything below. It looks really bad.”

This story originally appeared in the Kitsap Daily News, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.

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