Shomari O'Connor was in his northwest Baltimore apartment Thursday afternoon watching the storm when he saw trees bending and the windows begin to vibrate from the wind.
Then the ceiling of his apartment rose up for a moment, and he could see the sky. He picked up his 18-month-old daughter, Nefertiti, and ran.
"It was fight or flight," said O'Connor, 42. "We flew."
The line of storms that blew through the region Thursday also uprooted cherry trees in Washington, D.C., knocked out power and included lightning that struck a miniature donkey farm in Carroll County.
More than a dozen people were displaced after the wind tore off a large portion of the roof of the Brook View apartment building in the 5900 block of Western Run Drive in the Mount Washington area around 2:30 p.m.
Twenty-four units were damaged, including 13 that were left uninhabitable, said Larry Lichtenauer, a spokesman for Continental Realty Corp., the owner of the complex.
No one was injured, he said.
Continental Realty is working with the Red Cross to help the displaced residents find a place to stay, Lichtenauer said.
"The company is doing all they can to minimize disruption to their lives," he said.
At the Little Longears Miniature Donkey Rescue in Westminster, a barn was struck by lightning — knocking a weathervane from the roof to the driveway below.
"We are just incredibly grateful that somehow, no donkeys, horses, dogs, or cats were hurt," according to a Facebook post from the organization.
Wind damage was also seen in Washington, where Gonzaga College High School and an apartment building also suffered damaged roofs.
Roads were flooded around the area. A woman had to be rescued from her car in Harmans in Anne Arundel County, officials there said. She was not injured.
In addition to wind, lightning and thunder, rain drenched the region. More than 1.4 inches of rain fell at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport through 5 p.m., the most there in a single day since Sept. 29, when 2.11 inches fell.
The rain should ease drought conditions that have persisted across the state over the past several months. As of Monday, 15 percent of the state — an area stretching across Prince George's, Montgomery and Howard counties and into eastern Carroll and western Baltimore counties — was in "moderate" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Precipitation has been running more than 2 inches short of normal so far this year at BWI.
The National Weather Service said it confirmed 2 EF-0 tornadoes, one at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., and the other near Herndon, Va.
The weather service was aware of the incident at the Brook View apartments but believes the damage might have been caused by a "straight-line wind" and not a tornado, said meteorologist Ray Martin. He said he did not know Thursday whether the agency would investigate.
Carolyn Rivers, a resident of the building, said she had been told her apartment had been condemned because of the damage. She was not at home at the time. She and her husband were waiting to be allowed back inside with hard hats to take stock of any damage.
She said she was in shock.
"I didn't think this was going to happen," Rivers said. "It was just a normal day."
Cozette Davis, who lives one building over from the Brook View building that was damaged, said the wind sounded like "a freight train going through."
"I have never lived anywhere close to something like this," she said as she took in the damage. "This is just mind-blowing."
O'Connor said after his roof was damaged, he didn't fully process it until later. "I realized I was scared after the fact," he said.
"I think we're just stunned at the magnitude of the weather," O'Connor said. But he said he was grateful not to be hurt and that he would be able to stay with relatives nearby. He joked that he would probably go to church soon.
"That was one of those moments where you might need to go and say thank you," he said.
Baltimore Sun reporters Scott Dance and E.B. Furgurson III and the Associated Press contributed to this article.