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Deadly storm hits Muncy

By Staff | Sep 28, 2010

The back yard of William G. Ritter, 627 Shuttle Hill Road, Muncy, was severely damaged by uprooted trees during Wednesday's storm.

The national weather service confirmed strong winds and not a tornado caused all the damage last Wednesday in the Muncy area and took two lives.?Thousands of homes and businesses were without power after a storm ripped through central Pennsylvania with winds up to 70 miles an hour. South Main Street in Muncy was one of the the hardest hit areas in the storm knocking down several trees, crushing cars, blowing off roofs and stopping traffic.

Residents said that the sky turned green and the wind was loud sending many for cover and in their basements until the storm was over.?Thursday was a day of cutting and clearing all the debris and damage from the deadly storm that was more severe in Muncy than the rest of the county although 7,000 customers were without power according to PP&L.

The cleanup is turning out to be a challenge because many of the trees that blew over Wednesday were gigantic and tree surgeons had to be called upon the scene on South Main Street and Musser Lane.?Neighbors said some of these trees were more than 100 years old.?Many people in Muncy spent most of the day cleaning up what the storm left behind.?Robert Burkholder said he had to pay nearly $400 to get a large tree hauled from his yard.?Some have more to cleanup than others. The storm not only pulled up several trees, but there was also damage to sidewalks and a utility pole.?Past New Street the storm turned deadly. One tree fell onto a pick up truck killing two men inside. State Police identified the victims as James Stoltzfus, 70, of Watsontown and a passenger, John Herzog Sr., 63, of Rochester, N.Y. They were killed instantly when the large diameter tree crushed the truck’s cab about 4:45 p.m., state police said. County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr. said the two died of “multiple blunt force trauma injuries.”

“The tree entangled most of the truck,” stated Muncy Borough Fire Chief Jamie Brelsford. “We had to cut our way into the vehicle,” Brelsford said.

Dave Rising said trees knocked down the electricity lines. He had to rent a generator to keep the power going in his house. “When I came home it seemed like a battle ground with trees everywhere. Fortunately it didn’t damage our house at all, just mainly knocking trees down,” Rising said.?The Arnold’s are going through the same thing but they don’t have power.

Part of the roof of First United Methodist Church, 602 S. Main Street, Muncy was torn off during "twister-like" winds traveling more than 60 mph last Wednesday.

Officials at First United Methodist Church at 602 S. Market St. are still trying to assess the damage done when a large section of the building’s metal roof blew off during the storm.?Marcia and Dan Arnold were in their home across the street when the sky suddenly got really dark.

“It was a lot of rain, wind and dirt, a twister. I think it was a tornado, but I don’t know. It sounded like a tornado and it felt like one. I didn’t see a funnel cloud, all I could see was moving air,” Marcia Arnold said. The Arnolds said a second tragedy was averted when two trees narrowly missed hitting two other motorists.

“When I came outside, we saw the downed trees and there were two cars between the trees. They were just a matter of feet of getting crushed,” Dan Arnold said.

Borough Police Chief Richard Sutton, said, “If I had to make a guess, based on past storms that came through here, this looks like a supercell, just a real bad storm. We had one very similar to this one come through Green Street several years ago.”

“Multiple homes sustained some kind of damage from downed trees. Damage could be at least $100,000,” he said.

“I bet one home here on Main Street sustained $15,000 to $20,000 damage alone,” he added.

According to PPL there were about 1,800 homes and businesses still without electricity on Thursday, the day after the storm.??