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Downpour takes a toll

August 11, 1998

Downpoor takes tollFrom staff reports

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer [enlarge]




CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A heavy rainstorm caused several accidents and power outages in the Tri-State area Monday.

The thunderstorm that worked its way across Franklin County, Pa., dumped 1.41 inches of rain, knocked out power to about 250 Allegheny Power Company customers and caused a basement wall to collapse.

Weather observer Jerry Ashway in Chambersburg said Monday's storm was the first measurable rainfall since July 30-31, when 1.25 inches fell.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the county until 10 p.m. Monday.

According to an Allegheny Power Co. dispatcher, the largest outage occurred in the Falling Spring Road area east of Chambersburg, where power to about 200 customers was knocked out when lightning struck a utility pole. That outage lasted about 45 minutes.

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Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Co. Deputy Chief Bobby Albrecht said the rain likely caused the collapse of a basement wall at 2:14 p.m. at the home of David M. Bookamer, 2605 Tattoo Drive, in Greene Township, Pa.

"It's a fairly new house and, I guess due to the heavy rain conditions, the front wall of the basement collapsed," Albrecht said. He said the cinderblock wall was "pushed right over," but no one was hurt.

New Franklin Volunteer Fire Co. Deputy Chief Scott Bradnick said lightning struck the Gateway Gallery, 643 Kriner Road, Chambersburg, shortly before 2 p.m. He said there was only minor damage when lightning hit a telephone service box.

A Franklin County 911 dispatcher said the downpour caused U.S. 11 to be closed at an overpass on the south side of Greencastle, Pa., a frequent occurrence in heavy rains.

A Pittsburgh man escaped injury after his Dodge Caravan overturned on a rain-slicked Interstate 81 Monday afternoon, according to West Virginia State Police.

The accident occurred in the northbound lanes near the 12-mile marker about 2 p.m., shortly after an accident involving a van and a car about four miles away on the interstate, said Trooper J.L. Folk.

The van slid on top of the water and the driver, William Brownlee, 44, lost control of the vehicle, Folk said. The vehicle overturned onto the right shoulder of the highway, he said.

Brownlee, the only person in the van, was not injured, Folk said.

Traffic was able to detour around the wreck, he said.

A Sabillasville, Md., woman was in critical condition Monday night after her car slid off a slick Md. 550 in Frederick County, Maryland State Police said.

Ada Grace Wolfe, 67, was southbound when her car hit a dirt embankment and several trees, police said. She was pinned in her car for about 20 minutes and then flown by helicopter to Suburban Hospital, police said.

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