“I saw this blinding light and then heard the noise,” Patrick said. “I jumped back.”
Patrick had only been about 100 feet away from a direct lightning strike on his parents' swimming pool. The strike occurred during a strong thunderstorm on the evening of Saturday, July 12.
Patrick's parents, Donna and Malcolm Holland, were on their way home and Patrick had come over to visit. He was on the patio calling for the dog, with bags of food and his cell phone in his hands, when the lightning hit.
“He said when it hit he just dropped everything,” Donna said. The sound was so loud is made his ears ring.
Donna and Malcolm arrived home a few minutes later and Patrick told them what had happened. They waited until the storm slacked up to go outside and check the pool. One thing they immediately noticed was that the water in the pool was gone.
“Thirty-five thousand gallons of water had just rushed out,” Donna said.
At first all the damage they could see was a rip in the pool liner.
“We couldn't see the full destruction until we ripped the liner out,” Donna said. When they did, she could not believe the devastation the lightning caused.
“When I first saw it I felt sick,” Donna recalled.
The concrete bottom of one end of the in-ground pool was destroyed. Dirt and pieces of concrete and cement are piled up and holes in the ground remain. The lightning strike also affected the walkway around the pool, causing it to become unlevel and creating cracks in the walkway and throughout the pool.
Donna said no one who has come to the house and seen the pool can believe the destruction the lightning caused.
“We had three people out here to give estimates,” Donna said, “and all three said they had never seen anything like this before.”
For Donna, the lightning strike has made her realize how important it is to be extra cautious about swimming when a storm is near. She hates to even imagine what would have happened had someone been in the pool when the lightning hit. She wants to get the word out, especially to parents, to keep children out of the water if lightning is near.
“If it even looks like it's coming up a cloud, get your children out of the water,” Donna said.
According to the National Weather Service, an average of 62 people are killed each year by lightning. This is the same as the number of deaths caused by tornadoes each year. However, since lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property, it is often underrated as a risk.
Chris Allen, weather director for WBKO in Bowling Green, said he encourages people to seek shelter as soon as they hear thunder.
“Do not wait until the storm gets right upon you,” Allen said. “You need to get inside just as a precautionary measure.”
Allen said that an average bolt of lightning contains 70,000 volts of electricity and can be up to five times hotter than the surface of the sun.
Allen explained that even if a storm does not appear to be right upon a location, lightning can still strike. That is why it is important to go ahead and seek shelter.
Donna and her family have seen firsthand the power and destruction of lightning and it is something they won't soon forget.
“It was just so scary,” Donna said.