Fifteen Years Later, Lake Carey Remembers Tornado

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LAKE CAREY -- There was no ceremony to mark the 15 year anniversary of the Lake Carey tornado, but even though most of the houses that were damaged have been rebuilt, the memories are still strong.

On June 2, 1998 the F-3 twister killed two people, injured 15 others, and turned the summer retreat into a disaster scene.

From Lou and Lynne Bierle's home on Shore Drive you can peer across the lake and see the notch the tornado left in the treeline.

Lou has been coming to Lake Carey since 1945 when his family rented a cottage on the site of his current home. When the couple heard about the disaster they came to see what had happened to his house and found the roads closed.

"We heard there had been a bit of a ruckus and we came up here to try to get in, and there was martial law in the roads. You could not get in," said Lou Bierle.

While the tornado had uprooted all but two trees on his property, the house was mostly intact. The funnel cloud had obliterated a garage across the street but made a right turn at what is now known as Shore Drive.

Bierle muses, "Nobody said they have to go straight."

That right turn took the twister down to the causeway where some of the most serious damage was. County Commissioner Judy Mead still lives in the area, and was home when the tornado hit.

She said over the past 15 years communication systems have be significantly improved, giving residents better warnings of weather emergencies.

"We work with the National Weather Bureau so we have all types of warnings. It's just a world of difference," said Mead.

She said as Lake Carey quietly marks this 15 year milestone, it is hard not to feel a kinship with the tornado victims in Oklahoma.

"You see this destruction and you just realize that people can't understand it till you have actually seen it yourself," added Mead.