Strong winds cause damage to homes, business

Katherine Scott Image
Monday, February 25, 2019
High winds cause damage across Delaware Valley
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High winds cause damage across Delaware Valley: as seen on Action News at 5 p.m., February 25, 2019

UPPER PROVIDENCE TWP, Pa. (WPVI) -- Powerful winds have caused destruction throughout the Delaware Valley on Monday.

A massive tree came crashing down on a house in Springfield, Delaware County.

It happened around 10 a.m. on Beatty Road.

Neighbor Doris Leedecke was overcome with emotion as she got a firsthand look at her best friend's home in the 600 block of Beatty Road.

"I was watching the 12 o'clock news and I am looking and I am like - that looks like Nancy's house," said Leedecke. "And then I heard Beatty Road and as soon as I heard Beatty Road I went 'Oh my god!' I quick called her and she was here at the time."

She said this is the second time in 20 years or so that a tree has come down on top of this house.

"I just can't believe it just happened to her for a second time," said Leedecke.

Action News is told the homeowner and her dog escaped injury. They are staying with relatives until the repairs are finished.

In Upper Providence Township, a tree fell onto a house waking up the homeowners.

"We were sleeping in the house. We heard the wind. All of a sudden, we heard a couple of branches hit the house. And then just this horrific boom," homeowner Steve Olkowski said.

The tree sliced through the roof around 3 a.m. on the 900 block of North Orange Street.

Steve Olkowski and his wife were asleep when a tall tree came crashing through their roof, landing feet away.

"You heard plaster all over the place. Woke up to find a tree coming through my closet, about three feet off the floor of the bedroom," Olkowski said.

The challenge then was getting out. The tree blocked their path and wires had come down with it.

"We were able to crawl underneath the tree, down the stairs, get the dogs out," Olkowski said.

Police and fire departments came to the scene to inspect the damage.

The wind gusts continued in the daylight as the homeowner and crews took stock of the damage.

The roof split, the chimney was knocked down, the gutters were torn off, and debris was strewn on the property.

A major cleanup effort is ahead, both outside and inside Olkowski's home. But all four, two humans and two dogs, made it out safely.

In Montgomery County, heavy winds damaged the building belonging to an HVAC company around 10 a.m.

Portions of the roof flew off the regional headquarters of Sila on the 200 block of Hansen Access Road in Upper Merion. Some debris reached a nearby a parking lot.

About 60 to 65 people were inside the building at the time. It was evacuated, but fire officials say no injuries were reported.

The wind had peeled the outer layer of the flat roof as well as insulation and some rooftop air conditioner units, but there was no structural damage.

"In some areas of the building there is daylight coming through," said Gene Malinowski of Sila. "It ripped some ductwork out of the roof. It pulled some of those rooftop units off."

Officials say there was no structural damage to the Sila building.

In Quakertown, a strong wind gust knocked over a large tree behind Trainer's Corner Mall in Quakertown. The tree took out utility lines, cutting off power to the shopping center.

John Holznagel, the owner of To Your Health Natural Foods, said all of his employees showed up for work but didn't stay very long.

"Sent all of the employees home," said Holznagel. "Went up to Macungie and picked up some dry ice to put in the freezers and refrigerators to save the merchandise."

Officials from local power companies are asking customers who are off line to be patient, as crews work around the clock to make the needed repairs and more crews are called in from outside of the region.


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