Washington Co. residents scramble to deal with aftermath of fierce storm

October 30, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • A childs playhouse was toppled on Spickler Road east of Clear Spring when Superstorm Sandy hit Washington County.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A number of county roads were closed by flooding or downed wires or trees late Monday and early Tuesday. By Tuesday afternoon, county officials said all state routes had been reopened, although some county roads remained closed.

Water from Antietam Creek spilled across a stretch of Burnside Bridge Road, closing it to traffic at Churchey Road Tuesday Morning.

In Sharpsburg, Antietam Creek was at 9.5 feet Tuesday afternoon, according to the Weather Service. Flood stage there is 8 feet.

The Conococheague Creek at Fairview was at 11.7 feet at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday. Flood stage there is 10 feet.

The Clear Spring area showed signs of wind damage Tuesday.

The roof of a mobile home at 13226 St. Paul Road was ripped off and blown into a field across the street. Richard Deneen, 51, who has lived there for 15 years, said that he was home when the roof blew away.

“I heard this big roar, and all of a sudden the roof just lifted off the house,” he said. “We thought maybe a tractor trailer might have hit the place.”

Deneen added that more damage was done to his home after the roof was lifted off.

“About 15 minutes later it blew the windows out of the back of my garage and lifted up the whole garage off the foundation,” he said. “We stayed last night until this morning and tried to drain what water we could, but we’re just fighting a losing battle. It’s just a mess.”

About a mile away, siding was ripped from four houses along the 14000 block of Hicksville Road, just off St. Paul Road, near Clear Spring.

Siding and other debris was laying in the yards and the field across the street from the houses Tuesday.

Susie Albert, 42, of 14226 Hicksville Road, said her husband and two daughters were in the house when the storm hit.

“I was not sure the roof would not come off,” she said. “We leaned up against the countertop and you could feel the wind banging. It was scary.”

Albert said water started to get inside the house upstairs, around the fireplace, and in the basement.

“We have water spots on the ceiling, and the carpet is wet,” she said. “It was like it was raining inside.”

Wendy Haislip, 46, of 14302 Hicksville Road, also had damage to the siding of her house. Both residents lost power, and Haislip brought her two daughters to Albert’s house Tuesday after she also had to deal with the storm Monday night.

“You could hear banging,” she said. “We had to move our vehicles a couple of times to try to prevent some damage.”

Haislip also had a water issue, including a light fixture that she said water got into.

“Water was coming in the windows and draining down our walls,” she said. “We were praying for it to end quickly.”

Trees were down along St. Paul Road near Clear Spring. A tree at Knob Hall Winery was among the trees that were uprooted as a result of the storm. Winery owner Richard Seibert, 60, who lives on the 14108 St. Paul Road property, said he was inside when the storm hit and the tree fell.

“It was like a war zone,” he said. “We heard wind gusts, heard a pop, looked outside and saw two trees and that we were missing one.”

Seibert said the downed tree was an elm that was more than 100 years old.

“It added a lot to the scenery of the property,” he said. “The good thing was it didn’t blow on the house and we’re going to try to see what we can do with the wood.”

The C&O Canal website indicated that the park was closed Tuesday.

Kevin Brandt, superintendent of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, said the park’s buildings were closed Tuesday. Although the towpath itself was not technically closed, park officials were encouraging people not to use it until they have had a chance to survey all sections of the towpath for possible downed trees or wash-outs on the trail.

Brandt said everyone has been asking about how the newly completed Big Slackwater section of the towpath fared in the storm. Although Brandt said he has not received a report on Big Slackwater, Brandt said he has “every confidence” it was fine.

The Appalachian Trail website cautioned people that if they planned to hike the trail this week to “postpone your plans.” Part of the JFK 50 foot race on Nov. 17 is scheduled to be held on the trail. Race director Mike Spinnler said Tuesday he had not heard anything about storm damage possibly affecting the trail or the race.

Spinnler said the storm made him think of a hurricane that went through the area in 1985. There was much more damage associated with that storm and the JFK 50 went on as planned then, Spinnler said.

The Maryland State Parks Twitter account indicated that all state parks were closed Tuesday so damage could be assessed, power restored and officials knew the parks were safe for visitors.

Antietam National Battlefield was closed Monday, a sign on the visitor center informing any visitors “Closed for Severe Weather.”

Videographer Dustin Lawyer and staff writer Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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