Howard tornado damage estimated to be $750,000

Buildings said to take the brunt: Those costs are put at $715,000

October 03, 2001|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Although it just nicked the southern tip of Howard County, the tornado that touched down in North Laurel on Sept. 24 caused almost three-quarters of a million dollars in damage, county officials said yesterday.

Building damage alone is estimated to be $715,000, Howard County communications director Victoria Goodman said.

The tornado carved a path of destruction along U.S. 1 from Prince George's County into Howard. Once it crossed the county line, the tornado badly damaged about half of the 47 townhouses in Settler's Landing before dying out just north of the development.

"This was the endpoint for the storm," Howard County Fire and Rescue Services Chief Joseph Herr said about Settler's Landing. "It didn't really even cross the street."

Cleanup costs - mainly overtime for county employees - will be calculated later this week, but Public Works Director James M. Irvin estimates they will hover in the range of $10,000 to $20,000.

As Howard's damage estimates are tabulated, Deputy Chief John Frank of Howard County Fire and Rescue Service's office of emergency management will continue to assess what kinds of federal aid are available to the county.

"We're still knee-deep in the process," he said. "Each jurisdiction is working in conjunction with Maryland Emergency Management [Agency]."

Frank said that he has seen several powerful tornadoes touch down in Howard in his 28 years with the fire department, but he said the Sept. 24 storm had a significant impact because it ripped through a highly populated area.

In Prince George's County, the same storm caused an estimated $31.7 million in damage, including about $15 million to the University of Maryland, College Park, state officials said Friday.

The Harrison-Beard Building, a historic structure in Laurel, is still standing, pending insurance company assessments of the feasibility of saving it, Laurel City Police spokesman Jim Collins said.

Some city officials originally said the building was too badly damaged by the storm to be saved, but engineers have stabilized it enough to stand until the city decides what to do with it, Collins said.

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