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Storm aftermath

Cleanup begins after Tuesday tempest

Cleanup begins after Tuesday tempest

June 17, 2004|by Ryan C. Tuck

WASHINGTON COUNTY

ryant@herald-mail.com

Alvin Massey, Harry Knogle and Bruce Wibberly stood outside St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Lappans Road Wednesday as fallen trees were being reduced to dust by Antietam Tree and Landscape's wood chipper.

As Antietam Tree workers repaired the damage caused by Tuesday evening's thunderstorm, Massey, the church's treasurer; Knogle, its senior warden; and Wibberly, the junior warden, tried to summarize the damage.

The church was barely visible from behind the downed poplar trees. The sexton's house was covered on all sides by fallen trees, and the Parish Hall had a hole in the roof where a tree had fallen through.

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The stone wall separating the church's office and the church had a gap in the middle, caused when an uprooted tree broke through the stone.

"Well, that's what you get for being good Episcopalians," Knogle said, smiling.

Tuesday night's storm left a path of uprooted trees, fallen branches and split trees on Lappans Road near the intersection with Md. 65, and Hoffmaster Road in Boonsboro.

The severe thunderstorm came and went in little over an hour Tuesday evening, but Lappans Road was left with days of recovery work.

Hoffmaster Road was closed until 2:45 p.m. Wednesday. Six telephone poles were damaged, leaving utility lines strewn across the road. Allegheny Power was trying to restore power to the 50 customers on the road that were still without power Wednesday.

An Allegheny Energy spokeswoman said Tuesday night that at one point about 1,200 customers were without power in Washington County.

County Highway Department Director J. Ted Wolford said the damage in Boonsboro was "serious."

Kevin Knight, with the county highway department, described the roads late Wednesday as "not pretty ... but passable."

A thunderstorm also swept through Hagerstown on Tuesday, but left the city relatively unscathed. The city's Public Works Department said the storm was "fortunately" very light.

Just 15 miles from downtown Hagerstown, Wibberly, Massey and Knogle stood near the debris and debated whether a private party at the Parish Hall planned for Friday could be held.

Wednesday morning's healing service had been canceled and the church's Bible School, scheduled for next week, was delayed until August.

After some discussion, the party also was canceled.

"Luckily" for the church, the Growing Tree Pre-school had just finished classes last week, said co-owners Becky Weaver and Sue Barnes.

Weaver and Barnes were among the those who joined Antietam Tree workers Tuesday evening in moving supplies out of the pre-school and a supplies closet after a tree fell over the pre-school classroom in the Parish Hall.

Standing under the hole left in the ceiling, Weaver and Barnes talked of their luck in getting everything out with minimal damage.

"The church was saved. ... Even Noah's Ark in the playground was saved," Barnes said.

Surrounding houses on Lappans Road past the intersection with Md. 65 were damaged, and the road was reduced to one lane on the section nearest the church.

National Weather Service officials said after investigating the possibility of a tornado that they were calling what swept through the area an isolated incident.

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