AN ex-pat and his family were bombarded with hailstones the size of golf balls as deadly storms ripped through American.
The blocks of ice crashed down on the USA home of former Hartlepool man Trevor Mason as a wicked weather system battered the USA.
A series of powerful storms and tornados killed at least 28 people in the US states of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, and there are concerns that the death toll could rise as the damage is assessed.
Dad-of-three Trevor, 40, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, said: “It came through pretty fast. It was probably the biggest storm I have ever seen.
“The hailstones were the size of golf balls. You could hear them pounding outside. Everyone had to stay away from windows because they would have just come straight through.
“Luckily the worst part of the storm missed us, but it’s damaged the car and the house roof.
“The mess it has left behind is incredible.”
One of his friends who lives in Henryville, Indiana, was not so lucky.
Indiana had at least 13 deaths on Friday and a roof was ripped off a high school. A nearby town called Maryville was described as “completely gone” by the local sheriff.
“His house is in pieces,” said Trevor, a former Brougham, Jesmond Road and High Tunstall school pupil who is married to Kentucky born-and-bred Lucinda, 38.
“The worst part was coming out after the storm had gone and not knowing how everyone was. It happened at 3pm but we didn’t hear that my friend was ok until 1am because he had to drive out and find a cellphone mast that was still working.
“I’m going to go up there and help my friend out. It’s pretty ugly up there.”
Trevor, an engineer for a TV company, said his three girls, Charlotte, 14, Emma, 11, and two-year-old Kendall, are used to the storms having grown up in the country, but he still gets a shock when the extreme weather arrives.
Trevor, who emigrated after falling in love with America during three summer camps, said: “You grow up seeing this on TV but to actually be here when one hits is completely different.
“It’s scary because they come out of nowhere. They said for a few days there would be storms but you don’t know how bad. Then the cable went off 15 minutes before it hit.”
The big Hartlepool United fan, whose house is named Victoria Park in homage to the club, added: “You just have to take shelter and hope it passes and everyone is ok and then let people know you’re ok too.”