Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Friday, 29 July 2005 14:29 UK

Residents stunned at destruction

Sarah Portlock
BBC News, Birmingham

Samantha Forsyth

Hundreds of Birmingham residents and business owners are cleaning up the debris after a tornado hit parts of the city on Thursday.

Many had people working through the night on repairs. And shops on Kings Heath High Street reopened on Friday

after being badly damaged.

In Moseley, many residents are starting the clear up while they wait for the loss adjusters to arrive.

Samantha Forsyth said: "I just feel numb. I don't know where to begin."

Ms Forsyth had been at work in the city centre, watching the torrential rain which fell as the tornado hit.

She said: "I got a phone call from a friend saying there had been a tornado and I should come home.

"I thought she was winding me up."

Heavy traffic and a police safety cordon meant she did not reach her house until the evening.

The back of this Moseley house was destroyed
Mark Ashton came home to find the back of his house destroyed
She discovered a big hole in the roof, five windows smashed and debris all over the garden.

"At the time I was more worried about my dog who was in the house alone. I found him under the table, shaking," she said.

Next-door neighbour Mark Ashton returned home after his father rang him. Police have sealed off his driveway for safety reasons.

"The back of my house is totally destroyed," he said.

"I am just trying to get everything out before it rains and makes things worse."

People in Birchwood Road, Moseley, were not so lucky. Their roofs were taken off in the wind and they still do not know when they will be allowed back home as the area is sealed off.

In Kings Heath, the Rev John Wilkinson surveyed the damage at All Saints parish church.

Rev John Wilkinson
The church was badly hit but open as normal on Friday morning
Part of a 19th Century stained-glass window was broken, five ancient trees were brought down and he said the roof will probably have to be replaced.

But the church was open as normal for prayers on Friday morning.

He said: "I looked out of the window on Thursday afternoon and it looked as if hedges and the trees were dancing, as if they had an electric current going through them."

Slates from the 19th Century roof were strewn everywhere.

"My feeling is that if anybody had been hit by one of them, they could have been killed," he said.

At Greggs, a bakers on the High Street, staff turned up for work at 0500 BST so the shop could reopen on time.

Area manager Keith Fenton was in the store when the roof was destroyed. He said: "The panic was worse than the event in a way.

"I just suddenly heard a loud noise, like a really big lorry was heading our way.

"It was just horrendous."

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Birmingham Tornado: Your accounts
29 Jul 05 |  Have Your Say
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28 Jul 05 |  West Midlands

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