Swift-moving storm left lingering effects

September 22, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD and TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Susie Sholty can't put a dollar figure on the damage Friday night's tornado caused to her Boonsboro-area home, but she can point her finger at the garage ceiling, which her husband has jokingly called their "new sunroof."

The tornado that hit the area as the remnants of Hurricane Ivan moved through brought down a 12,000-pound ash tree that crashed into the garage of Sholty's 19237 Bettys Ave. home. Tree limbs destroyed her shed and punched holes through the ceiling of her daughter's bedroom. A tree smashed her well cap, shifting the casing of the well.

But Sholty said that after all is said and done, her losses are material.

"Now comes the fun part," she said sarcastically, listing the contractors and insurance adjusters with whom she's been in contact.

County property

Property owned by Washington County had about $112,000 in storm damage, Washington County Director of Emergency Services Joe Kroboth told the County Commissioners at a meeting Tuesday. The county's director of public works said he thinks the costs will be more than that once damage assessments are completed.


"That's got to be an early number," county Director of Public Works Gary Rohrer said Tuesday afternoon.

Rohrer said that approaches to the Tollgate Road bridge were damaged and those repairs are expected to cost about $100,000.

Divers found there was no major underwater damage to the bridge that runs over Tonoloway Creek.

"It's a pretty solid bridge," Rohrer said.

Shrine spared

Behind John Crowe's 19203 Bettys Ave. home, a gully is strewn with broken trees, as if "a blender" had been used to churn them, he said.

Crowe, who pointed out the zigzag track of the storm through his neighborhood off Roxbury Road, said his house and one neighboring him weren't touched by the tornado. He said he wonders if a Greek Orthodox-style Shrine of the Crucifixion, which he erected last summer and which faces his neighbor's house, spared their homes.

The shrine, a green pole with an ornate illustration of the crucifixion boxed at its top, was unblemished.

"I don't know if you can call it miraculous, but it comes pretty darn close," he said.

Hancock wasn't so lucky. Interim Town Manager Lou Close said Tuesday afternoon that a bridge and playground equipment at Widmeyer Memorial Park were damaged, and 16 picnic tables were swept away by fast-flowing water that cut through the park.

"The water was just going so fast those picnic tables probably didn't have a chance," he said.

He estimated the town had about $150,000 in damage, depending on whether the park's bridge has to be replaced. If the town can fix the bridge without replacing it, the damage costs will go down, he said.

Some concrete railings on the bridge, which is closed, were broken, Close said.

Four pumps at Hancock's sewage treatment plant went down as a result of the storm, but since have been repaired, Close said. The severe weather knocked down trees and sent debris onto roads and washed gravel out of driveways. But, overall, Close said town property was spared major damage.

"There was nothing really serious - no loss of life and no buildings damaged," Close said. "We were very lucky, I guess."

Close said the town has submitted its damage reports to its insurance company and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to see whether the town is eligible for any money to help pay for repairs.

Back near Boonsboro, Susan Johnson, who lives at 19208 Bettys Ave., was going through the insurance process.

In her garage, blazers, damp and spattered with insulation, hang drying. The closet in her master bedroom was destroyed by a 200-year-old poplar tree, which also badly damaged her back porch.

She's done 23 loads of laundry since salvaging her clothes from beneath the tree.

"You don't think about all the small stuff you have in your closet," she said.

Despite the losses, "I haven't even shed a tear yet because it's just things," she said.

Johnson said she's heard that her insurance might not cover much of the tree removal work needed at her home, where nearly 20 trees were strewn around her back yard.

Johnson and Sholty said that if not for fire company members who covered the holes in their houses with tarp, they may have had even more damage.

"I'm probably better off than I thought I'd be," Johnson said. "It's more of an inconvenience than anything."

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