Pa. residents still picking up the pieces after super storm

November 13, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Homeowner Mary Spillane evaluates property damage at her home on 501 St. Thomas-Edenville Road near St. Thomas, Pa. The damage was caused when Superstorm Sandy passed through the area on Oct. 29.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

ST. THOMAS, Pa. — After more than a week, life is returning to normal for Franklin County, Pa., residents who suffered one of the worst storms to hit southcentral Pennsylvania in recent memory.

Dave Brindle, owner of Brindle’s Auto Body, 7318 Village Lane in St. Thomas, is picking up the pieces after Superstorm Sandy nearly destroyed his business.

“It’s worse than we thought, but we’re rebuilding. It’s going to take a little longer than we thought,” Brindle said on Thursday.

It could be the end of the month until the business is ready to work on cars again, he said.

Sandy tore through the area on Oct. 29, leaving thousands without power, uprooting trees, flooding roadways and closing schools.

The eye went over the area north of Chambersburg and concentrated in St. Thomas and Mercersburg, Pa., according to Franklin County Department of Emergency Services.

Brindle said he’s been touched by the support of the community and loyalty of his customers, but he’s also been disappointed by the corrupt side of humanity that can be brought out by a crisis.


While the power was out and his surveillance cameras were down, Brindle said someone stole thousands of dollars worth of tools from his business.

“Talk about kicking somebody when they’re down,” he said.

After being closed for seven days, St. Thomas Gas and Diesel, 8632 Lincoln Way West, St. Thomas, is back in business.

The diesel pumps destroyed by the storm are still down, said store Manager Brenda Strait.

Despite the destruction of the storm, Strait said the staff pulled together with a positive attitude.

“We have been in here the entire time cleaning, getting things ready — in the cold,” said Strait, who was surprised how quickly the business was up and running.

She said most of the regular customers have returned and are supporting the business.

Not only are the customers loyal, but she said the store is more like a family than a business.

Red Miller, maintenance director of the Detrich-Brechbill American Legion Post 612, on 7966 Lincoln Way West in St. Thomas, said it took a couple of days to become operational.

“We still have problems, but we patched the hole in the roof, temporarily, so we could get heat,” Miller said. “We got the chimney set back so we could turn the furnaces on.”

The staff performed general cleanup and put plywood up where a tree smashed through the front door.

This is the worst storm American Legion kitchen manager Carol Johnson has ever witnessed.

“I’m 54 years old, and I never remember going through a storm like that. I was really scared,” Johnson said.

“This is the first time the chimney has ever been down, the first time the awning has even been torn off and the first time a tree ever went through the door,” Miller said.

As Mary Spillane walked around her property at 501 St. Thomas-Edenville Road, St. Thomas, she was still stunned by the force of last month’s storm.

“It looked like toothpicks all around here,” she said about the scattered remains of trees that the storm spread around her property.

She had no idea that the storm was going to do the amount of damage that it did.

“It sounded like a train. We’re fortunate that we didn’t have any house damage,” Spillane said.

She’s contacted companies to remove some of the trees from her property and is outraged at the estimates.

“The estimates are out of sight. They went from $3,000 to $6,500,” she said.

While she said some of the trees have been removed with a chain saw, others will require a tree service to remove them.

Tree removal isn’t covered by insurance unless it falls on the house, she said.

“All of this you have to pay out of pocket,” she said.

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