Western Areas, PA Tornado Destruction, Feb 1980
Damage assessment teams will be deployed in the affected areas Sunday, he said, to determine if there is a need to proclaim a state of emergency.
Comey said 11 shelters were set up for homeless people in Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Venango Counties, housing at least 830 people Friday night.
He said the number of homeless was probably twice that.
Bob Blair, spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said governors of Ohio and Pennsylvania asked the agency to send teams to their states to survey damage.
Albion in Erie County was particularly hard hit with nine dead and more than 20 reported missing early today. Police teams were searching houses with dogs to find bodies in the rubble. The American Red Cross said 200 people were homeless.
In nearby Cranesville, a tornado ripped through Kennedy's Trailer Park, killing three and leaving 12 missing.
"The trailer court is gone. There's nothing left. People have lost everything," said Glen Black, vice president of the Cranesville Volunteer Fire Department. "It's like somebody took a hammer and leveled everything."
Some trailers were tossed end over end for hundreds of feet, others turned on their sides, he said.
Black saw the funnel cloud just before it hit Albion after 5 p.m.
"It had to be a couple hundred feet in the air. There were shingles, parts of houses, aluminum siding, dust and debris," he said. "The noise was just tremendous. There was just a roar like 100 freight trains."
"I was as scared as I've ever been in my life," he said.
Albion firefighter Jim Tickner was a mile outside town and heard the tornado coming, "like a big freight train, roaring."
"It's the most devastating scene I've ever seen in my life," Tickner said. "The funnel would come down, then lift up and hop to a different area, then it would start all over again. It just leapfrogged through town."
Firefighters estimated that 150 to 200 houses were destroyed.
"Whole roofs just exploded," firefighter Fred Kiedaisch said.
"There was debris 100 feet in the air - houses, trees, poles, even outboard motors."
The twister hit at 5:12 p.m., stopping clocks when it tore down power lines. Five hours later, the devastated town was lit by a three-quarter moon as rescue workers combed basements for the injured.
The Albion twister was one of three that touched down in Erie County, the National Weather Service said.