A rare February tornado wreaked havoc Wednesday evening in Lancaster County, destroying an Amish schoolhouse and damaging around 50 area homes.

The schoolhouse is expected to be rebuilt within a week. Thankfully, since the storm hit in the evening, no one was in the building. From wgal.com:

It happened in Salisbury Township where 30 students spanning from first through eighth grade attend school.

The storm left desks, books and other items from the one-room schoolhouse blown across the farmland. The building itself was leveled and only a playground swing-set is still standing.

A member of the mostly-Amish community told News 8: “Thank God the tornado came through at night and not during the day when children would have been at school.”

Members of both the Plain and English communities worked together on cleanup. This video from wfmz.com shows aerial images of the damage, as well as the destroyed school and cleanup efforts by Amish:

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How do Amish, without television or (for the most part) other electronic media, learn on short notice of dangerous weather situations like this?

This pennlive.com story describes how non-Amish alerted their Amish neighbors, in turn “saving lives”:

“One of the questions we’ve been asked is, ‘since this is an Amish community, how did the Amish get the tornado warnings?'” Lancaster County Emergency Services Director Randall Gockley said at a press conference Thursday. “They said that neighbors took the time to come over and tell them in those minutes prior to the storm hitting.”

That is something very commendable, Gockley added, and it shows just how close this community is.

With some neighborly help and adequate warning time from the National Weather Service, Gockley said, “That’s what saved lives.”

The storm caused an estimated $8 million-plus in damage in the Gap and White Horse areas.

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