Our webmaster Cindy, with help from a cast of folks here, built a great resource page chronicling the La Plata tornado, which occurred 10 years ago this week, and the town’s successful recovery. There’s a lot to learn from a planning perspective. And toggling between the aftermath and post-rebuilding imagery is just plain fascinating.
April 24, 2012
April 11, 2012
Second of two parts (See Part 1: The La Plata tornado — Testament to planning)
From a planning perspective, the small bronze plaque on the front of the new town hall in La Plata says it well: “This building is dedicated to all of the people of La Plata who have always been able to turn adversity into opportunity.” Town leaders were determined to not just replace the central business district in the wake of destruction from a tornado 10 years ago, but to improve it.
“It was a tragedy but it was also seen as an opportunity from the very beginning. Even though people were in shock, that’s the way (town leaders) saw it and that was just extraordinary,” said Susan Van Buren, a former planner at the Maryland Department of Planning who worked on the La Plata design guidelines and now runs an energy consulting firm, TerraLogos, in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill. “There was occasional push back, but most everyone was seeing it for the greater good.” More
April 10, 2012
Comprehensive Plans, Land Use, Planning, Population, Smart Growth, Transportation Charles County, La Plata, Maryland, maryland department of planning, smart growth, tornado, vision plan, War of 1812, William Eckman 1 Comment
William F. Eckman remembers the late afternoon of April 28, 2002 as bright and sunny in his yard in La Plata. Forecasts on radio and TV described a storm moving through but predicted it farther north in Charles County. The sky did change and he noticed that, strangely, debris began to swirl about off the ground. But Eckman, who had been mayor of the town for 17 years at that point, said he didn’t think much of it until his town manager called. “Mayor,” he said, “we just got hit and hit hard.” All seemed fairly normal on Eckman’s block, although he was startled when his neighbor said he’d heard the hospital in town had lost water pressure and he wondered whether something had happened to the town’s water tower. “No, the tower can’t be down,” the mayor said.
He learned very shortly that indeed the strongest tornado in recorded history in Maryland struck La Plata that day. It claimed four lives, including a heart attack victim. The tornado – measured at F4 on the Fujita Scale, the second-highest intensity — carved a path about three football fields wide through the middle of town. More