Thunderstorms cause damage in Milford

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by Terry Rogers 

Electric crews work to repair downed power lines on Airport Road after storm

On Thursday, September 3, a wave of summer thunderstorms crossed the Delmarva Peninsula, bringing high winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightening to the Milford area. According to Mark Whitfield, City Manager, the storm had Milford electric crews working most of the night.

“Last night’s storm caused a lot of lost sleep,” Whitfield said. “Both because of the thunder and lightening and that our crews were out working. The most significant damage was the loss of a pole line along Airport Road between Roosa Road and Milford Crossing. Five poles came down, necessitating installation of new poles and new distribution lines.”

Whitfield explained that crews worked from about 10:30 PM to 7 AM and had power restored to the area by 7 AM. He stated that there were numerous breakers tripped and crews spent the remainder of the morning resetting those breakers. Many large businesses, including Perdue, Walmart and Food Lion lost power. Perdue’s power went out around 10 PM and was restored around midnight, Whitfield stated. In addition to power outages, the storm caused flooding in some areas.

Roof damage on North Washington Street home after thunderstorms

“We had flooding and pump failures at the Shawnee Acres Pump Station,” Whitfield said. “Causes for the failure are still being investigated. Washington Street Pump Station als flooded the wet well, however now sewage was spilled from the station and everything was contained. Truitt Avenue Pump Station had both pumps running for eight continuous hours. Normally, one pump runs for about four hours during the night.”

Street crews dealt with numerous trees down and street flooding with the worst of the flooding occurring along Wilber Street next to the Simpson’s Crossing development, Whitfield said.

As a result of the power outages, Walmart and Food Lion pulled cold foods from their shelves. Food Lion marked frozen food sections with signage that read “power outage – unable to sell” as the food reached temperatures higher than what is deemed safe. Employees were called in to remove much of the cold items from the shelves in order to minimize losses.

Walmart’s frozen and cold foods had been mostly restored by around 11 AM on Friday while Food Lion was in the process of restocking cold foods at that time. There is no information on the monetary losses from the power outage.

Downed trees after thunderstorm

At around 10:14 PM, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for northern Sussex County and southeastern Kent County which was to last until 11:15 PM. At that time, a severe thunderstorm was located over Milford, moving at 25 miles per hour. According to the NWS, the storm had gusts as high as 60 miles per hour and contained penny-sized hail.

Throughout the Milford area, trees were down and a home on North Washington Street appeared to have some damage to their roof. There were no injuries reported from the storm. Towards the end of the storm, a bolt of lightening struck one of the Villa’s in Hearthstone Manor.

“It was like the last bolt of lightning in the storm,” Mary Lake who lives just below where the building was struck, said. “It hit the building just six inches from our natural gas line. At first, I was not aware something was wrong. My neighbor knocked on the door and told me we had to get out. I was in my pajamas so I told them I was going to change and they said “No, we have to go now.” I handed them one of my dogs, the Yorkie, but I also have a Maltese. I told the neighbor I needed to catch her and quickly changed clothes. The firemen were running around trying to catch the dog for me.”

Hearthstone Manor lightening damage after thundesrtorm

Lake was very impressed with the Carlisle Volunteer Fire Company. She felt they did an amazing job of keeping the fire contained and helping the residents despite the pouring rain.

“To be volunteers, they were simply amazing,” Lake said. “I have never been through anything like this before and to have them be so helpful to all of us was so nice.”

Lake did not suffer any fire damage but says the neighbors who live above her did. She did suffer water damage.

“They also had to come out and replace the gas lines,” Lake said. “In order to do that, they had to cut holes in one of my bedroom walls. It is a room I don’t use much anyway. All of my damage is covered by insurance. I called the insurance company and they were afraid they could not get anyone out until Tuesday because of the holiday. Within a half-hour, a young man called me and told me that since I had water damage, they would be out right away. They sent a company out to put in big fans and deodorize everything and now you can’t even smell the smoke.”