Tornado hits Heidel farm
She had just parked her car at the barn across the driveway from her house when she heard buckets rolling down the macadam. Then, she heard the roof of the farm workshop explode.
Sonia Fink, co-owner of Heidel Hollow Farm in Germansville, described what she heard as she tried to make it to safety when an EF0 tornado (an Enhanced Fujita scale measuring tornadoes) ripped through her family farm just before 6 p.m. July 22.
“I struggled to make it to the tree,” Fink said.
That tree, between the driveway where her car was parked and the edge of the property where her house is located, more than likely saved her life. Fink, who hung onto the back of the tree as the tornado came down the driveway, says she neither heard the proverbial freight train sound nor saw the funnel cloud.
“When I got out of the car, I was in the eye of the tornado,” Fink said.
It was quiet.
“I saw a big piece of tin fly over my car, and I saw a big sheet of metal go on my house roof and slide down. It was only a matter of minutes, but it was intense,” she said.
The metal Fink was talking about blew off the farm workshop roof.
The twister, moving north to south, tore down trees along Church Road, came up over the hill to Heidel Hollow Farm, down a corn field where it just missed solar panels on the hill, over the top of a red tractor, which lost a corner of its roof, then tore off the overhang and rolled the metal roof on the workshop.
Now a bit weakened, the tornado apparently took a left turn and went down the driveway and across Saegersville Road.
Goodwill Fire Company Assistant Fire Chief Randy Metzger returned to the farm the next day along with Heidelberg Township Emergency Management Coordinator Josh Bingham, Lehigh County Special Operations Team Coordinator John Kalynych with the Emergency Management Agency and Lou Ruh, a volunteer with the National Weather Service. Metzger said firefighters were called out by Pennsylvania State Police 5:55 p.m. July 22 for traffic control for trees down along Church Road.
“There were reports of a funnel cloud,” Metzger said. “And, we followed the debris in this direction.”
Metzger said the Fink family secured the workshop — the electric and propane — right away.
“Josh [Bingham] came approximately 6:20 p.m. to assess the damage,” Metzger said.
Kalynych told The Press that he, Bingham and Ruh would gather information and send it to the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, N.J. The verdict came in just before 4 p.m. July 23. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado, an EF0 with maximum wind speeds of 65 mph, tore a 20-yard-wide path through 0.8 miles of the township.
“The well-defined path through the cornfield and twisted nature of the tree damage and eyewitness accounts helped to determine this was tornadic damage.
“The damage was sporadic along the 0.8-mile path, especially through the cornfield, so the tornado may not have been on the ground for the entire path,” the National Weather Service reports states.
Sonia Fink’s husband, David, spoke with The Press July 23.
He was in the house as the tornado ripped through his farm.
“Oh, man — it was unbelievable,” David Fink said. “[Sonia] had an angel on her shoulder.”