Chaos

By on June 24, 2015

Ferocious Storm Rips Through Ephrata

by Patrick Burns

Police scanners warned of live wires on Jeff Avenue, one of the first streets closed just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

PPL reported at 7:30 p.m. that 215 customers in Ephrata Township were without power, many in the Eastbrooke Development.

Later, Ephrata Borough disclosed that last night’s violent,  fast-moving thunderstorm battered homes, trees power lines, and impacted more than 600 of its municipal electric customers.

On Pershing Avenue, the storm took out a favorite 50-year-old.

“It fell just right,” Jeff Holochuck exclaimed.

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Bill Feirick planted this 50-year-old tree as a sapling in 1965. It came down at 704 Pershin Ave. during Tuesday’s ferocious storm.

He  referred to a four-story oak tree whose branches swept across the east  side of the expansive property at 700 Pershing Ave.

“It took down a willow tree and an electricity pole but missed the house and the air-conditioning unit on that side,” Holochuck added.

The once unyielding half-century-old oak’s trunk lay across the property line leading to an uprooted base on Bill and Lillian Feirick’s front lawn at 704 Pershing Ave.

“I moved into the house in 1964 and planted the tree as a sapling in 1965,” Bill Feirick said. “My first thought when it fell was that it went through the neighbor’s roof.”

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Mrs. Holochuck’s home where a 35-foot oak tree’s branches swept across the property at 700 Pershing Ave

A family member said the wind gust from Tuesday’s wild thunderstorm “was like a cloud of twigs and leaves lifting off the tree tops.”

“I guess the tree had only 50 years of storms in it,” said the Feiricks’ son-in-law.

The Feirick’s tree was one of many that toppled in Ephrata Borough and Ephrata Township.

Many trees, downed by high winds and lightning strikes, dropped power lines and closed roads, including massive oak trees that fell on South Academy Drive and Ephrata Avenue.CAPS

 

The storm impacted 656 customers who lost power at one time or another in eight different areas of the Borough. As of this morning, three customers were still without power.

“But this is due to damage at homes resulting from trees falling on their service lines from our grid to their house not from the Borough grid being down,” Bob Thompson, borough manager, said.

The number of customers in Lancaster County without power peaked at around 6,950 shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday. Just before 7 p.m., that number was reduced to just over 3,100 customers, as PPL workers restored service in some areas. By 7:15, it was back up to 3,805.

Storm warnings flashed across the sky beginning at around 4:15 as dark clouds illuminated white by shooting lightning bolts above a darkened Main Street in Downtown Ephrata.

A din of screaming fire sirens echoed off stores, apartments, and businesses just before 5 p.m. – only moments after the skies, tinged with green and orange, dropped thick water curtains that drenched pedestrians seeking cover.

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This tree that fell on a home at 20 Penn Ave.

A man lassoed a tree that fell on Tiffany Sensenig’s home at 20 Penn Ave. and tethered it to his pickup truck at 5:30.

“We were just saying that tree is dying and we were just talking about taking it down,” Sensenig said. “Well, that’s taken care of.”

A neighbor across the alley from the Sensenigs witnessed lightning strike a tree in front of 23 Martin Ave. That tree did not fall but fire police bordered it with yellow caution tape at about 6 p.m.

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A resident witnessed lightning strike this tree at 23 Martin Ave.

“It took a big chunk out of the tree,” a family member said. “The tree was struck by lightning three times in three quick bursts.”

Farther down Martin Avenue, workers began to reroute traffic where another oak tree brought down power lines and blocked the Ephrata Avenue access road to WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital.

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Workers reroute traffic off Ephrata Avenue.

 

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A tree brought down power lines and blocked the Ephrata Avenue access road to WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital.

“It’s hard to tell if it was wind or lightning that brought it down,” said one fire policeman, who upon further inspection said, “it’s burned, (it) had to be lightning.”

Patrick Burns is a staff writer and social media editor for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.¶

 

Photos by Patrick Burns

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