Clean up, re­cov­ery un­der­way fol­low­ing tor­nado

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — A wa­ter­spout turned tor­nado struck Kent Is­land early Mon­day, July 23, morn­ing, July 12, dam­ag­ing com­mu­ni­ties and leav­ing more than 9,000 homes and busi­nesses with­out power in its af­ter­math.

The EF-2 tor­nado touched down at 1:29 a.m. in the Bay City com­mu­nity, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice, caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant struc­tural dam­age and rip­ping apart trees, tele­phone poles and ev­ery­thing else that was in the path of the four-minute wreck­ing ball of chaos.

The storm dam­aged homes, cars, boats and per­sonal be­long­ings as tree limbs, en­tire trees and power lines went down from the ex­ces­sive wind and rain. More than 20 fire de­part­ments from sur­round­ing coun­ties as­sisted the sit­u­a­tion, re­spond­ing to calls through­out Mon­day.

For co­or­di­na­tion and re­sponse, a mo­bile emer­gency op­er­a­tions cen­ter was set up at Mow­bray Park near the Mat­a­peake school com­plex that in­cluded Mary­land State Po­lice, the Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, the county’s emer­gency ser­vices depart­ment and all the pub­lic safety re­sponse teams.

The tor­nado was 150 yards yard with wind speeds up to 125 mph, and it trav­eled a dis­tance of about two miles, NWS re­ported. Only one in­di­vid­ual was trans­ported to the emer­gency cen­ter for in­juries.

Emer­gency Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Scott Haas told county com­mis­sion­ers Tues­day night the man, whose house was de­stroyed, sus­tained a

mi­nor punc­ture wound to his back, but he was re­leased later Mon­day from the Univer­sity of Mary­land Emer­gency Cen­ter in Queen­stown.

Haas, who viewed the tor­nado dam­age from a he­li­copter on Mon­day with Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford, said, “It was al­most like some­body steered it (the tor­nado) through the neigh­bor­hood away from homes. It’s un­be­liev­able, the path it took.”

Due to the sever­ity of the storm and the de­struc­tion it caused, Haas said it was amaz­ing only one per­son sus­tained an in­jur y.

“We were very lucky, very for­tu­nate,” Haas said at a Tues­day morn­ing press con­fer­ence.

Ruther­ford said there was “ex­ten­sive dam­age” and that home­own­ers he had spo­ken to were scared dur­ing the storm but felt for­tu­nate there were no ma­jor in­juries.

“It’s dev­as­tat­ing in terms of just see­ing the power, the force, that came through in this storm,” Ruther­ford said.”

Ruther­ford said peo­ple were ap­pre­cia­tive of the first re­spon­ders, both lo­cal and from sur­round­ing coun­ties, who came to as­sist.

“All of the com­mu­ni­ties will come to­gether, that’s what Mary­lan­ders do,” he said.

Do­ing a sim­i­lar tour through Bay City and El­len­dale com­mu­ni­ties on Tues­day, Comptroller Pe­ter Fran­chot spoke with home­own­ers deal­ing with dam­aged prop­er­ties to hear first­hand ex­pe­ri­ences of the dev­as­ta­tion. Fran­chot’s of­fice an­nounced a tem­po­rary waiver on mo­tor fuel tax pay­ments for com­pa­nies af­fected by the storm on Tues­day.

“Our pri­mary fo­cus is en­sur­ing that busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als im­pacted by this storm can fo­cus on clean­ing up and re­build­ing their com­mu­nity, read a state­ment from Fran­chot’s of­fice. “My of­fice stands ready to as­sist and to ease any bur­dens we can.”

Within 24 hours of the storm, Del­marva Power Com­pany had re­stored power to all but 38 cus­tomers, 15 of which Del­marva Vice Pres­i­dent John Allen said would not be able to be­cause the lo­ca­tions are “un­in­hab­it­able.” By 5:27 p.m. Tues­day, Del­marva spokesman Mar­cus Beal said power had been re­stored to all its cus­tomers still able to re­ceive it.

Though power is back to the area, many homes and busi­nesses are still in dis­ar­ray. Haas said all of the ho­tels Mon­day night were fully booked and that five peo­ple stayed that night in the Cen­tre­ville Mid­dle School emer­gency shel­ter, which closed at noon Tues­day.

Allen thanked Del­marva cus­tomers and the com­mu­nity for their pa­tience and thanked all of its emer­gency ser­vice part­ners for the smooth work that had taken place.

“The value of those re­la­tion­ships is re­ally tested when you have a sit­u­a­tion like this,” Allen said.

County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran, who was at the com­mand cen­ter Mon­day morn­ing, said the county’s re­sponse was “flaw­less” and that the com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween all the dif­fer­ent agen­cies went well.

Com­mis­sion­ers Mark An­der­son, Steve Wil­son, Jack Wil­son and Mo­ran all thanked the first re­spon­ders and the com­mu­nity for com­ing to­gether and han­dling the sit­u­a­tion smoothly.

Kent Is­land Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment First As­sis­tant Chief Tracy Schulz said the first call they re­ceived af­ter the tor­nado hit was for a house struck by light­ning. While re­spond­ing, the fire depart­ment en­coun­tered tor­ren­tial rain, wind and de­bris all over the place, he said, and part of U.S. 50 west was closed due to a downed tree as well as part of Route 8.

Schulz said crews had a hard time get­ting into the com­mu­nity due to downed elec­tric lines and tree limbs all through­out the neigh­bor­hood. He said they didn’t put out any fires but did con­tain mul­ti­ple gas leaks, mainly from propane tanks that were over­turned or that broke loose from houses. He said crews se­cured them quickly to pre­vent po­ten­tial fires.

“We’ve had a cou­ple storms be­fore and they’ve been straight-line winds, but this one here is a whole dif­fer­ent storm,” Schulz said. He said the de­bris field and the amount of de­struc­tion “was just dev­as­tat­ing.”

Ja­son An­thony with Gra­sonville Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment said the scene was “chaotic.” An­thony said it was “def­i­nitely a unique scene, some­thing you don’t see of­ten.”

Haas said the storm be­gan in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay be­tween An­napo­lis and Stevensville as a wa­ter­spout that turned into a tor­nado in the mid­dle of Bay City com­mu­nity. The storm, he said, took a north east pat­tern up Route 8 and into the El­len­dale town homes be­fore pass­ing through Thomp­son Creek Road and the shop­ping cen­ter. The storm then “bounced back and forth” across U.S. 50, through the ceme­tery be­tween U.S. 50 and Route 18 and up to Queen­stown be­fore it broke up.

While along Route 18, Haas said the tor­nado knocked out all the power lines.

The NWS re­port said the storm was on the ground for four min­utes.

Speak­ing to the com­mis­sion­ers Tues­day night, Haas said it could be two years un­til the area fully re­cov­ers from the storm’s af­ter­math.

Part of that re­cov­ery be­gan Tues­day as three dam­age as­sess­ment teams went through com­mu­ni­ties to come up with fig­ures to see if the county could qual­ify for dis­as­ter re­lief funds.

Haas said early dam­age as­sess­ment num­bers show 155 prop­er­ties were im­pacted by the storm and that 10 homes were to­tally de­stroyed. He said as many as five res­i­dents may re­quire hous­ing as­sis­tance.

In a joint state­ment, U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen said if the state and county of­fi­cials deem it ap­pro­pri­ate, they would give strong sup­port for a “fed­eral dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion to make fed­eral fund­ing avail­able for emer­gency work and the re­pair or re­place­ment of fa­cil­i­ties dam­aged by the storm.”

A dis­as­ter as­sis­tance cen­ter has been set up at Mat­a­peake Ele­men­tary School, 651 Ro­man­coke Road, Stevensville, and will be open to­day, July 28, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Satur­day, July 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sun­day, July 30, noon to 5 p.m.; and Mon­day through Thurs­day, July 31Aug. 4, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The cen­ter will have Mary­land In­sur­ance Agency rep­re­sen­ta­tives along with county and state agen­cies to of­fer el­i­gi­ble in­di­vid­u­als in­for­ma­tion. There will also be sev­eral in­sur­ance com­pa­nies on site to of­fer as­sis­tance with claims.

Peo­ple seek­ing as­sis­tance are asked to bring per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and doc­u­ments as well as a list of dam­age and what as­sis­tance is needed.

Due to the amount of de­bris, the county’s Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works said Batts Neck and Gra­sonville Trans­fer Sta­tions would have ex­tended hours through­out the week. Both trans­fer sta­tions are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Satur­day and then will go back to reg­u­lar hours next week..

Res­i­dents and their con­trac­tors can dis­pose of yard waste storm de­bris, such as downed trees, brush, stumps and chipped yard waste at no fee or need for ticket use. Res­i­dents look­ing to get rid of storm re­lated con­struc­tion and de­mo­li­tion de­bris can also drop those off at the two trans­fer sta­tions with no vol­ume re­stric­tions but must use their ticket book for dis­posal.

Other dis­posal op­tions in­clude R.B. Baker and Sons Inc. – Rub­ble Land­fill, at 501 4-H Park Road, Queen­stown. R.B. Baker and Sons ac­cepts both res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial loads Mon­day through Fri­day from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Satur­day from 8 a.m. to noon. For in­for­ma­tion con­tact 410-8278831.

Kent Is­land United Methodist Church, lo­cated at 2739 Cox Neck Road, Ch­ester, is ac­cept­ing dona­tions for vic­tims of Mon­day’s tor­nado. Dona­tions, ex­clud­ing cloth­ing, will be ac­cepted Mon­day through Fri­day at the church of­fice build­ing. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Pas­tor Amor Woolsey at 410-6435361 or email amor@ki­umc. org.

In­ter­na­tional Fuel Tax Agree­ment licensees in the county now have un­til Au­gust 31 to file their sec­ond quar­ter IFTA tax re­turns. An ex­ten­sion was also granted un­til Au­gust 31 for Mary­land Mo­tor Fuel li­cense hold­ers to file their tax re­turns.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the tem­po­rary waiver from the comptroller’s of­fice, call Nathan Essey at 410-2607498 or email nessey@comp. state.md.us.

To sign up for Ci­ti­zen Alerts run through the county gov­ern­ment, visit www. qac.org and click the “Ci­ti­zen Alert” but­ton to sign up for text and email emer­gency no­ti­fi­ca­tions. Fol­low the Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices on Face­book and Twit­ter for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford views dam­aged homes in the Bay City com­mu­nity on Kent Is­land on Mon­day, July 24.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Clean up be­gins of a gi­ant oak tree that stood along­side Route 8, near the Farmer John’s pro­duce stand that was de­stroyed by a tor­nado early Mon­day morn­ing, July 24, in Stevensville. Ac­cord­ing to Sean Pe­lan’s cal­cu­la­tions, the tree was 450 years old.

SHER­IFF’S OF­FICE PHOTO

Comptroller Pe­ter Fran­chot, fore­ground, tours the El­len­dale com­mu­nity, which sus­tained heavy dam­age dur­ing Mon­day’s tor­nado. With him are Emer­gency Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Scott Haas and Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff Gary Hof­mann.

FACE­BOOK PHOTO

This boat ended up up­side down on the pier.

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