Storm damaged trees, power lines

June 12, 2014
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Barbara Miller / Observer-Reporter
An uprooted tree closed Greenfield Drive in Peters Township, just south of the Allegheny-Washington county line, when a storm blew through about 6 p.m. Wednesday. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
A large Bartlett pear tree snapped sometime during the storm Wednesday night, with parts of the tree falling on utility lines along East Beau Street and other portions falling on the home of Becky and Shawn Smiley at 632 E. Beau St. in East Washington and the car parked in the driveway. Order a Print

Becky Smiley slept peacefully Wednesday night, but she had an unsightly view from her doorstep on East Beau Street in East Washington Thursday morning.

In the midst of a harsh thunderstorm, a tree in Smiley’s yard split and brought down with it some cable lines. The tree’s branches were sprawled across her car in the driveway.

“It was one of those things where you open the door and you can’t believe what you just saw, so you close the door and open it up again,” said Smiley, who works at Citizens Library.

Luckily for Smiley, the tree caused minimal damage and did not scratch her vehicle.

Thunderstorms that started about 5:15 p.m. Wednesday and continued into the night presented a test of strength for every tree in its path, and not all were standing Thursday. Many families and road crews throughout Washington County were working to remove trees from streets, yards and even rooftops. Power outages also were reported throughout the county.

Wilbert Avenue in Washington was still blocked off Thursday afternoon because of damaged power lines. John Kosek III said his family just moved into their home on Wilbert Avenue a week ago, and they didn’t bargain for a large tree crashing onto their rooftop.

John Longstreath, Kosek’s cousin, said he saw it happen.

“You just hear this loud crackling noise ... and the whole house shakes,” he said.

The tree damaged the roof, and water leaked into a downstairs bedroom. The family said they kept emptying wastebaskets filled with water. They also lost telephone service and were waiting on someone to remove the tree Thursday afternoon.

Several other roads throughout the county were closed because of damaged power lines, including McConnell Road in Cecil Township. The road reopened Thursday morning. Also affected in Cecil were Greenfield Drive and Cecil-Henderson Road.

Trees were reported down in Bentleyville, West Brownsville, Hazel Kirk, the Ghennes Heights section of Fallowfield Township, Roscoe, Donora and Stockdale.

“(The storm) moved fairly quickly into the south, southwest from West Virginia,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Hendricks. “You ended up having a line that basically extended through central Greene County and into Washington County in an arc over northern portions of Washington County.”

While the storm passed relatively quickly, Hendricks said strong winds called downbursts caused the damage throughout the region.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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