For people living in Watts Township, Perry County, Tuesday was beyond a scary evening, as a violent storm ripped through the area.
“It’s pretty devastating,” said Steven Collins who had just left for work when he received an alarming phone call from his wife. “What we went through last night is just unbelievable. What mother nature can do in a short ten minute period,” said Collins.
The storm tore off part of his roof and destroyed his garage. His daughter was trapped inside. “My youngest daughter was trapped under the ceiling until my wife and the fire company got her out. Everybody is ok. Everything else can be replaced,” said Collins. He is thankful everyone is ok but he is still shaken up over the experience. “We lost the living room ceiling inside, the garage is a total loss, everything that was in it, is just gone, done. The garage is completely gone,” said Collins, who wonders where to start. “Where do you start to even clean something like this up. I have no idea,” said Collins.
While it was not a tornado that hit the area, the National Weather Service says it was strong straight-line winds that at times reached speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. The NWS says the storm caused more damage than some small tornadoes that have hit our area.
“We look at the pattern of the trees falling and the other damage, the trees seem to be falling in the same direction so that is a really good indicator that it was straight-line winds versus a tornado. With a tornado we would see more trees crossing and different signs of rotation,” said Elyse Colbert, a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College. “It hit maybe a one to two mile stretch. It was one road where we had about ten power poles down, Black Snake Road. So definitely some significant damage there, damaged roofs, houses with maybe a little bit of structural collapse. There’s a lot of cases where straight-line winds can cause more damage than a tornado, which is typically what we see in this area. You usually don’t see too many tornados over an EF0 or EF1 in this area.”
As for people without power, FOX43 could not reach PPL but sources say it could take up to three days to get power restored. Anyone without power can go to the New Buffalo Fire Company for food and water.