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Maugansville cleans up after confirmed tornado

May 19, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • A reader-submitted cell phone picture taken Tuesday evening shows what appears to be a tornado. The photo was shot looking east from the area of St. Paul Road near the Pennsylvania border.
Submitted photo

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Parts of Maugansville were filled by the buzzing sounds of chainsaws and wood chippers Wednesday morning as private contractors, residents and Washington County road crews cleaned up the aftermath of an overnight tornado that uprooted trees and toppled a trailer in a driveway.

The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday afternoon that a 200-yard-wide tornado passed through the area from 8:10 to 8:15 p.m. The estimated maximum wind speed was 90 to 100 mph.

Daisy Drive resident Eileen Felton said she and her husband were watching television Tuesday night when they heard the storm brewing outside.

“We looked out the window, and things started flying by,” said Felton, whose house was damaged by the winds. “We went down in the basement. When it was over, there was nothing. It was just dead. Then everyone came out to look.”

Like many Maugansville residents, Felton spent a good portion of Wednesday raking leaves and picking up pieces of their homes that were lying on the ground. Felton said the winds picked up a canoe in her back yard and moved it several feet.

Trees were uprooted and branches were strewn across yards in the area of Bluebell and Daisy drives. Shingles littered some parts of the streets, where Washington County road crews — assisted by inmates from the prisons south of Hagerstown — threw debris into wood chippers.

Bill Routzahn, supervisor of the Washington County Highway Department, said workers started cleaning up at about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“They’re mostly cleaning up what was in the right of way and helping residents,” Routzahn said as he supervised workers near the intersection of Bluebell and Daisy drives. “I think this is the worst area.”

The county workers received praise from many of the residents. One woman called them “amazing,” while another gave them Honeybuns and bottled water. Others lauded the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. for turning out during the storm and again in the morning to check propane tanks along the sides of houses for damage.

Robert Kegarise, owner of Kegarise Roofing in Williamsport, was passing out business cards Wednesday morning trying to drum up business.

“People don’t know who to call,” Kegarise said. “I might as well get here and plant the seed. If I get one call it’s worth it .... You can’t have too much work.”

Daisy Drive resident Gary Haupt said he was at Valley Mall when the storm hit and returned home to a startling sight.

“We looked down the street and saw the trailer wasn’t in the driveway anymore,” Haupt said. “That was a bad feeling.”

He said the trailer was blown from where it was parked in his driveway to his next-door neighbor’s front yard.

The trailer missed striking the house by about 18 inches.

Haupt said he was going to go camping in the trailer on Memorial Day weekend. A crack in the trailer showed that a couch, bed and other items had been moved from their original positions.

Haupt said other damage to his property included two uprooted apple trees in his back yard.

“I probably will lose all my trees in the back,” Haupt said. “I don’t think there’s any way I can save them.”

As insurance agents drove from house to house, Laura Martin was not cleaning up her yard, but the yard of a friend.

Martin said she and her husband, Eugene, who owns Accu Auto Care in Maugansville, came to help one of their customers.

“We saw this in the paper this morning,” Laura Martin said. “We said: ‘Let’s go down and help.’ We did it out of love for helping people. One of my husband’s goals is to always help the community.”

Linda Hendrickson, whose mother, Barbara Shank, was among the people the Martins were helping, said Eugene Martin and another man showed up with chainsaws early Wednesday morning.

“They started helping right away,” Hendrickson said. “You couldn’t see the front yard because it was full of trees.”

She said people like the Martins made her proud to live in Maugansville.

“It’s a very nice community,” Hendrickson said. “It’s very quiet. Everyone helps everybody.”

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