PEPPER PIKE, Ohio (AP) — A tornado packing 110 mph winds hit Ursuline College in northeast Ohio early Saturday morning, collapsing a wall of the school’s athletic center and damaging other buildings but causing no injuries, officials said.
The EF1 twister hit about 3:35 a.m. northwest of the college and continued across part of the campus, said meteorologist William Comeaux of the National Weather Service in Cleveland. It reached 100-200 yards wide and traveled 1.3 miles.
Only a few students were on campus at the time, and they weren’t close to the athletic center that was hardest hit, a college spokeswoman said.
“The blessing is that there was no loss of life or injury,” Sister Diana Stano, president of the 1,500-student school about 13 miles east of Cleveland said on the college’s website.
No one answered the main number for the college Saturday evening, but a recorded message said the campus was closed Saturday and Sunday to assess the damage.
The storm caused an external wall of the school’s O’Brien Athletic Center to collapse and destroyed part of the roof. It also damaged several other buildings, including the Dauby Science Center and the Ralph M. Besse Library. Many trees were uprooted or destroyed and other campus facilities had minor damage.
College spokeswoman Angela DelPrete said only about five students were on campus at the time and they were about 1,000 feet from the gymnasium. She described debris scattered around the campus and broken windows. Weather service photos showed roof tiles torn away on the gymnasium exposing splintered wood and support beams.
Stano told The Plain Dealer that Ursuline was accepted as an NCAA Division II school only last week.
“Now we don’t have a place to play,” she said.
Ursuline was founded by Roman Catholic nuns as the first women’s college in Ohio. Men now also attend the school.
Despite the damage Saturday, Comeaux said, “It’s a beautiful area with lots of trees.”
He said it’s been about two years since a tornado has touched down in the region; the state averages 17-19 tornadoes per year. A disaster relief fund will be established to help rebuild the campus, the website said.