An EF2 tornado that went through Oregon caused massive destruction to homes surrounding Pearson Metropark, but the park suffered only minor damage.
“We feel very fortunate. Nobody was hurt, no buildings were damaged,” Metroparks communications director Scott Carpenter said.
“It's pretty much just tree damage,” Carpenter said. “It was a very close call with Johlin Cabin. The park manager said if you put your back to Johlin Cabin and looked back toward Pearson, you could see the path where the tornado came through. He was amazed that it missed the cabin. It looked like it went behind the fire station.”
The 20-by-26 foot Johlin Cabin was built in 1867, near the end of the Black Swamp era, and there is little question that it not would survive a tornado bringing 100-plus mile per hour winds. Its hewed-log exterior was made in the mortise and tenon style.
|The gas station awning at the Circle K on Rt 795 and Oregon Rd. was destroyed
as workers huddled inside the store.(Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos
An original Great Black Swamp Cabin donated to Metroparks, the cabin was moved to the Pearson addition on August 23, 2006 from a farm on Corduroy Road in Oregon. It is the centerpiece of an historical education area. Its destruction would have erased years of community efforts for its restoration, and it is easily visible from where homes were badly damaged.
“I feel bad for people who live around the park who had some homes damaged by Lallendorf,” Carpenter said. “We did find a small section of somebody's roof by parking lot 7, so there was debris (in the park). Across from the Zeller's house there, I saw boards from the house that looked sharp like spears. That's one reason why I suspected it was a tornado. It was a little scary. I live a mile-and-a-half from there.”
Carpenter says the only damage to any of the park’s buildings was a broken light. However, cleaning up debris from leveled trees will take time.
“A lot of trees are down, and mostly at the end of the park on the road that runs through, there are nine parking lots, so around parking lots 7, 8, and 9 are among the heaviest hit. It's the only damage really,” Carpenter said.
“We have our own land management crew that is constantly working on doing storm clean-up. Their main job is restoring actuaries, but they have all the equipment to cut trees and all.”
The crews were already at work early Monday morning after the tornado struck.
“We kept the park closed (Monday) just to be able to attack it and get everything cleared up as quick as we could,” Carpenter said. “And, it worked pretty well. We got it open (Tuesday). Some areas along trails, we have to keep some of those trails closed. Trees are hung up and could be dangerous, but the road is back open and all the public areas are open with the exception of some trails.”