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Alexandria police sergeant's house hit by Thursday's tornado

Several houses in Chad Schroeder’s neighborhood – South Darling Drive NW, Donna Drive NW, Edna Drive NW, West Meadow Lane NW and South Darling Court NW – were damaged in the tornado, which produced 100 mile per hour winds, according to the National Weather Service.

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A boat overturned, a garage collapsed and trees went through a house on South Lake Darling Drive owned by Chad and Heidi Schroeder after a confirmed tornado hit the area. The storm ripped through Douglas County shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 2022. Many areas around the county were hit hard and damage was widespread.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA – Chad Schroeder was across town when he got a call from his daughter, Gracie, telling him a tree went through their house.

He said Gracie had just let their dog inside when the sirens sounded shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12. She took off running downstairs when what has now been confirmed as a tornado ripped through their neighborhood on South Darling Drive NW in Alexandria.

But before she could reach the basement, the tree toppled onto the house. Schroeder said his daughter was about 10 feet away from where the tree came in. After making sure his daughter was OK, Schroeder hurried home to not only see the damage done to his house, but to also find that his boat was on top of his flattened garage.

He said it was the first time in many years his boat wouldn’t be on the water for opening day of fishing.

Several houses in Schroeder’s neighborhood – South Darling Drive NW, Donna Drive NW, Edna Drive NW, West Meadow Lane NW and South Darling Court NW – were damaged in the tornado, which produced 100 mile per hour winds, according to the National Weather Service.

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“It’s a miracle no one was injured or killed,” said Schroeder, who is a sergeant with the Alexandria Police Department.

He noted that as he arrived home, Sgt. Keith Melrose was pulling up to his house to check on everything.

“I told him, ‘Gracie’s OK, she’s OK, start checking the neighborhood to make sure everyone else is OK,’ ” said Schroeder.

The adrenaline was pumping pretty good Thursday evening after the storm and when the Schroeders woke up Friday morning, the extent of what had happened set in.

“Then we were in shock and wondered, ‘Where do we begin?’” said Shroeder.

As of Monday, May 16, the clean-up process was still in full force, but Schroeder said he was amazed by all the support not only he received but everyone in the neighborhood received.

Although he did add that all the onlookers were a little frustrating, especially when there were barricades up to help keep the traffic away. He said he wasn’t sure if an ambulance could have gotten through if there had been a need for one because of the steady stream of vehicles going through. He said the line of traffic started even before the sirens were shut off.

Despite all the people who were there just to check out the damage, Schroeder said it was amazing to see how many were there to show support and help out.

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“The show of support was unreal,” he said. “People brought trailers to load up all the junk. At one time, there were probably 20 people in my yard picking up stuff. To get that kind of support was so cool.”

A friend of his brought over a backhoe and made calls to other people to help out, he said, noting that he himself didn’t have to call anyone and things just got done.

Clean-up efforts in his neighborhood will continue for quite some time, he said, noting that he was grateful for all the help he received.

Putting on his police sergeant hat, Schroeder shared some stern advice: “When you get an alert on your phone or if the sirens start going on, get in your basement immediately.”

Video is courtesy of Chris and Sarah Robinson

Schroeder said the storm that hit his area of Alexandria took all of five seconds. His neighbors, Chris and Sarah Robinson, shared security camera footage with him and within the 48 second clip, the tornado did its damage within a five-second window.

“You don’t have time for anything else but to get in your basement,” Sgt. Schroeder said. “And stay away from areas that have been hit. It’s great to get help, but maybe let the dust settle. And just stay safe.”

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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