O NE afternoon a researcher and a general foreman were riding in the latter's truck outside of town. There were large black thunder clouds in the west. At 5:30 p.m., the storm hit. The rain came down in sheets -- so hard that the windshield wipers could not keep up and the truck slowed down to a crawl. Calls began to come from the general foreman's office on the two-way radio. The researcher made this chronology of succeeding events as they occurred:
5:35: A call comes that a transformer has blown on the south side of town. 5:45: A line is down on Sussex Street and a hot wire is in the alley. The general foreman and researcher go to check it. 5:45: General foreman calls in for a crew to cut the switch on the line which is hot so that it can be put up again. 5:50: General foreman and researcher return to warehouse. A substation reports it has no power. The superintendent is in the warehouse office. A line foreman comes in. A service truck goes out to open the switches on the 100 block of Sullivan. A radio station reports a tornado on the ground west of town. 6:05: A second truck leaves to repair lines in the south part of town. The general foreman has taken over the radio and telephones in the office. The superintendent sits down in a chair beside the general foreman's desk...The general foreman talks on the radio, does all the dispatching. The superintendent sits by. 6:10: A highway patrolman reports a funnel sighted five miles south of his position. The radio station reports the funnel heading for the town. 6:15: The town siren sounds. The superintendent suggests that managers in outlying communities should be alerted. He places a call to them. Another report comes in that a 12-kv line south of town to the rural customers is out of service.