Carroll County cleans up after storm pounds area 4,000 customers lose electricity

firefighters respond to numerous calls

June 18, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Roads crews were busy yesterday cleaning up scattered tree limbs and debris in the wake of a powerful thunderstorm that roared through Carroll County on Tuesday evening with 70-mph wind gusts and golf ball-sized hail, officials said.

Police and firefighters were swamped with more than 50 emergency calls, and an estimated 4,000 customers were without electricity at the peak of the hourlong storm, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokesman said. No storm-related injuries were reported, according to police and highway officials.

From Middleburg came reports of the worst damage. The wind XTC blew the roof off a farm tenant's house near Ebert Road. The home was covered in blue tarp yesterday.

At the entrance to Brookfield Manor, an assisted-living home on Middleburg Road, wind uprooted two towering pines. The trees were about 75 years old and about 70 feet tall.

"The wind just laid it over," said James Rowe, Brookfield's owner. "It looked like somebody just took a scoop and ripped them out of the ground."

Rowe hauled four truckloads of limbs from the property yesterday.

The storm overturned a dozen shelters for calves at a Union Bridge dairy farm. Neighbors scrambled to retrieve the calves.

Wind gusts reached 70 mph and consistently registered 50 mph during the storm, authorities said.

In Westminster, a tree fell into a house in the 700 block of Norfield Court. In Uniontown, sheriff's deputies stood by to prevent traffic accidents until crews could remove a large limb that had fallen across Uniontown Road.

"The storm was as bad as any I remember since 1979," said Ed Ulsch, a Westminster attorney who watched a metal flag pole in his yard sway in the wind. "It didn't snap, but I was afraid it would during the worst part of the storm, which lasted about 15 minutes," he said.

State police at the Westminster barracks reported receiving more than 30 calls for weather-related problems, and officials at the county Emergency Operations Center said firefighters responded to about 20 alarms for fallen wires and trees.

"We had nine roads closed at one point because of trees and wires being down," said 1st Sgt. Andy Mays, a state police spokesman in Westminster.

All but 340 Carroll customers had electrical service restored by about 10 a.m., yesterday, a BGE spokesman said, and some of those outages might not have been storm-related.

A spokeswoman for Allegheny Power Inc., which serves Frederick County and portions of Carroll, said that 1,000 of about 9,000 customers in both counties were without power at 5 p.m. yesterday.

In the Bark Hill area near Union Bridge, residents reported power outages of up to eight hours.

The storm washed out the Sykesville carnival behind the station house of Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department. Winds ripped through the carnival grounds, tearing away cardboard signs and strewing paper plates and foam cups.

Carnival patrons dashed for cars or for the roof-covered concession stands, where some ate hot dogs and french fries until the storm subsided, a fire department spokesman said.

The wind also relocated patio furniture, especially in the south Carroll area, where plastic chairs and tables were reported scattered across yards.

Douglas Rawlings, area supervisor for county highways, said 25 employees worked all night to handle emergencies.

"Mostly large limbs fell on roads, blocking a lane and creating a traffic hazard," Rawlings said. "Our crews went from place to place, getting them out of the way and then went back out [yesterday] to clean up."

Pub Date: 6/18/98

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