tornado rubble 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Strong winds and torrential rain wreaked havoc on residents of Kibbutz Gezer late Saturday night, severely damaging 25 houses and leaving several families homeless.
"It's a miracle no one was killed," Marcus Ben Elias, the kibbutz's secretary, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview. "We still do not know how much the damage will cost us. We are currently waiting for the insurance assessor to make his evaluation. It may take a few days."
Eight houses were completely destroyed by the storm, which ripped off roofs and tore away walls. Some of the 40 trees toppled by the storm were more than 100 years old, and one even brought down power cables, in what some residents described as a "frightening explosion."
One resident, Ian Zimmerman, said the roof above his kitchen was blown off, allowing rains to flood his house.
"We were sitting in the living room when suddenly we heard lots of banging as if the house was about to fall down. Within seconds the damage was done," said Zimmerman.
Zimmerman said he immediately turned off the house's electricity mains, packed some belongings and took shelter in his daughter's house on the other side of the kibbutz.
While one half of the kibbutz suffered severe damage from the storm, the other side was left virtually untouched, said Zimmerman's neighbor Filly Erlank-Yofan, whose house was also destroyed by the storm.
Both said this was the worst storm they could remember since moving to the kibbutz 20 years ago.
Located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Gezer is home to more than 90 families, many of them former immigrants from English-speaking countries.