Stroudsburg Man Recounts 2009 Tornado

STROUD TOWNSHIP — Members of one community in the Poconos say their heart goes out to the people affected by the tornado that devastated a town in Oklahoma.

The community in Monroe County was also hit by a tornado back in July 2009.

Russell Blakeslee of Cherry Valley, just outside Stroudsburg, showed Newswatch 16 a picture of what his family farm once looked like.  It used to have two silos and several sheds. But in July 2009, that all changed.

“Basically I got up, I was working on the equipment. I was up in the shed across the street there. And I just heard something,” said Blakeslee.

That “something” Russell heard was a tornado, with estimated winds between 100 and 150 miles an hour.

On July 29, 2009, it tore through Stroud and Hamilton Townships with Blakeslee’s family farm in its path.

Moments before the tornado hit, Russell was working inside his shed.  The only thing that remains of the two-story shed is the concrete floor.

“The next thing I know, I woke up, three, four minutes later. I was knocked out and seen everything torn,” said Blakeslee.

Newswatch 16 was in Cherry Valley the day of the tornado back in 2009.

Russell’s farm, its silos and sheds, were all destroyed.

“The house was completely gone, the whole top was collapsed in,” said Blakeslee.

Since the tornado, Russell says he pays extra attention to the weather.

“Every now and then, if it’s going to start raining, thundering, lightning, carrying on, you kind of look for someplace else to be for a while,” said Blakeslee.

Russell Blakeslee says it took him less than a year to rebuild his home and almost four years after the tornado, he is still rebuilding some of the other buildings on his farm.

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