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The Daily News from Lebanon, Pennsylvania • Page 5
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The Daily News from Lebanon, Pennsylvania • Page 5

Publication:
The Daily Newsi
Location:
Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Page:
5
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

Lebanon Daily News, Sunday, July 18, 2004 5A' The July 14th Tornado Campbelltowns F-3i twister not the worsts area has experienced; 1 4 1, 'V'lfAi 'W i 73 and 112 mph touched down in East Hanover an3f North Annville townships os. April 30. It was one of seven storms that struck Pennsylvania in a two-day period. V-T vVaH?" T- -s f-SSA Facing southwest, this aerial image, drawn from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agencys Web site, www.pema.state.pa.us, shows the destruction left by Wednesdays tornado. National Weather Service officials say the twister, packing winds approaching 200 mph, traveled from west to east, touching down in this area and traveling 7s miles toward Cornwall and Quentin.

Gene Simmers 1809 farmhouse is at the left of the photo, near the end of Carriage Road. Note the seemingly undamaged homes across Manor Circle from the two houses that were leveled. Officials work in face of daunting task JN4S. "2" SS-9 Jurell and his crew began their work by doing a quick walk-through of Country Squire Estates. I decided to get set up at Behrens (Drive) and Carriage (Road), where I could get away from everybody, because thats how I operate the best, he said.

I pretty much locked myself in the truck and just started going at it. We tracked every house and everyone who told me a possible concern. We went through that development real quickly the first time. I was real proud of my crew. When Kauffman and Jurell met up at the disaster scene, it was decided the EMA would take over operational By all accounts, Wednesdays tornado packing winds with speeds up to 200 mph was a severe one, classified as an F-3 on the Fujita scale used by meteorologists.

The last tornado of that magnitude to hit Lebanon County touched down in the Bethel and Jackson areas on June 19, 1970, according to National Weather Service meteorologist David Ondrejik. The twister killed a 13-year-old Myerstown boy, who was struck on the head by debris, and injured five others, in addition to causing property damage in excess of $1 million. On July 18, 1992, an F-2 tornado, packing winds between 113 and 157 mph, briefly touched down about 6:30 p.m. in North Londonderry Township and skipped through the county, also touching down in North Lebanon and Jackson townships, according to a Lebanon Daily News article. No one was injured, and the twister caused only minor damage, estimated at $250,000.

In 2002, a category F-l tornado with winds between ties, he said, Ive got two truckloads of bottled water and 20 porta-potties here. Also helping to organize things for South Londonderry were its EMA coordinator Mark Miller and assistant manager Scott Galbraith. Township manager Rose Mary Kays cut her vacation short and arrived Thursday. Keeping tabs on the whole operation was Wolgemuth, who had the responsibility of keeping the victims, officials and media informed. The 33-year-old from Scha-efferstown has been the countys chief administrator for seven years.

As more and more media began arriving, Wolgemuth, who had not been to the disaster scene, got a sense of how big the crisis was. I was here for a couple of hours, and at one point I turned around and saw about 10 satellite trucks lined up, and thats when I realized, this is big! he said. After speaking with Kauffman, Wolgemuth and Commissioner Larry Stohler declared a county emergency at 5:37 p.m. That allowed them to make decisions involving spending money for services without the financial constraints of the bid system, which is normally required for county purchases. A short time later, Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz arrived.

Commissioner Bill Carpenter is on vacation, but he was kept apprised, Wolgemuth said. Ate1'. 4 If -s command, with Clements working closely with Jurell. About 5 p.m., Kauffman went to the fire station, where the EOC had been set up. There, a triage unit was operating in a garage under the direction of University Hospital EMS manager Lee Groff.

Sixteen people were treated for injuries before being transported to area hospitals. To the rear of the building, Red Cross workers, under the guidance of Brian Hartman and Frank Bergman, were assisting the victims as they began to arrive. Helping to coordinate the setup was EMA administrative assistant Dan Schaeffer. I have all the respect in the world for that man, Kauffman said. Hes been involved in mass disasters all over the country.

Before I even got here and had to ask about water, and porta-pot- An F-3 tornado blew through the Bethel and Jackson areas on June 19, 1970. A 13-year-oid Myerstown boy, struck on the head by debris, was killed. Five other people were injured. if 6 a St 3 0 No one was injured, but it caused $850,000 in damage. The hardest hit area was East Hanover where 14 homes were daimj aged or destroyed.

That same year, on June1 28, winds reaching speeds of 100 mph hit Fredericksburg, causing $2 million in darnel age. However, after examine ing the damage, Ondrejik concluded that the storm was not a tornado. John Latimet About 6 p.m., as another, line of storms descended, offi-T cials decided to evacuate. Country Squire Estates? Soon, residents began arriving by car and school bus at the Red Cross center, where3 dozens of volunteers registered them and offered meals, prepared by the Campbelltown Fire Auxiliary. A total of, 180 residents were About 50 stayed overnight, while others stayed with, friends and relatives.

Wolgemuth, who was preparing for Sanko tpr arrive, turned his attention to the tornado victims. My biggest challenge was making sure the residents, knew what was why it was happening, and just being extremely sensi! tive to them, because thi was a life-changing event fo them, he said. A decision was made to gef any residents whose homes were structurally sound back; home as quickly as possible? Wolgemuth said. A group of county building inspector was called in, and they began, inspecting the homes about, 10 p.m. Wednesday and continued into the wee hours of the morning.

Jurell, Wolgemuth and Kauffman say they caught an hour or two of sleep before they were back a( work Thursday to lead the recovery, which is ongoing. Kauffman, 50, was a 26- year veteran of the Lebanon Police Department before he resigned to take the position of county EMA director Sept? 22. Preparedness, he said, is the key to handling any emergency effectively. Anytime you have a dis; aster, it is going to bej (chaos), he said. The only questions are, how quickly do you recover from it, and how quickly do you respond? And that is where the training and planning comes in.

In the coming weeks, he said, the principal players in this emergency will sit down to discuss what went well and what didnt in preparar, tion for other disasters. In ironic timing, the county emergency responders have! a mass-casualty training scheduled for mid-August It ought to be a piece of cake, Wolgemuth said on Friday, flashing one of hi first smiles in days. and EMA; 1 PEMA Director David Sanko addresses the media Wednesday evening in Campbelltown. Watching (from left) are county EMA Director Dan Kauffman, county administrator Jamie Wolgemuth and county Commissioner Larry Stohler. 2.

Roof trusses, blown several hundred yards, block the crest of Lawn Road near Eagle Drive Estates. 3. Firefighters from Annville inspect the Eagle Drive area, just west of Country Squire, about 90 minutes after the storm. John Latimer Lebanon Daily News (From page 1A) Yesterday, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director David Sanko lavished praise on the workers and volunteers. It is remarkable, he said.

I got there early Wednesday evening, and they had already begun damage assessment and were about the business of making sure that people were getting out of the community and properly evacuated. Public safety was first and foremost. Kauffman began preparing for an emergency as soon as he learned of the tornado warning, issued by the National Weather Service at 2.56 p.m. One of the first things he did. was summon Wolgemuth from his second-floor office in Lebanons municipal building to the EMA communications center on the bottom floor.

Concerned about the several hundred other employees in the building, one of Wolgemuths first actions was ordering them to take shelter on the ground floor, where they remained for about 20 minutes. Assuming his role as public-information officer, Wolgemuth said he immediately began recording what actions EMA was taking. My first reaction was I went directly down to EMA and listened to what was going on, he recalled. I took notes of what was already in place and what they were arranging, such as radio communications, Red Cross, transportation. And I took notes on the times things were happening.

Meanwhile, Kauffman and hazardous-materials crew chief Matt Clements headed west to check out the damage and injuries. It did not take long for them to see the gravity of the situation. Coming out here, it was quite obvious that we had a serious incident, said Kauffman, who lives in nearby South Annville. Poles were down, trees were down, we had difficulty getting here. The first property we saw down on Route 322 had collapsed in the back.

At that point I said, Lets go. We are activating the EOC. I want Red Cross out here. I want to set up a mass care shelter. Lets get hold of One minor PEMA.

I want some people down here. We just started rocking. In Campbelltown, Jurell was also setting out to inspect the damage, unaware of how serious it was. The 39-year-old has been running with the fire company since he was a teenager. When I went out the door my son said, Can I go with? and I said, No, its just a wire down or something, he said.

As soon I turned onto (Route) 117 and got to just about Kreider Lane, I knew we had some serious problems. I immediately went to third alarm and basically declared an emergency. hitch: Communication lagged between NWS tor Dave Sanko, both of whom are correcting the problem. One way that area residents could have better protection in future storms is if the county invests in a weather warning system that would include installation of monitors in places like schools and day-care centers, Kauffman said. The system can also be triggered locally to warn of other disasters, like chemical spills, for example.

The warning system is costly? and Kauffman admitted he had not given serious consideration to purchasing it before Wednesday tornado. It just didnt seem like a priority to me until this incident, hd said. Now Im starting to reassess) that and starting to wonder if that shouldnt be a goal. The question is, where do we get the money to put all of these monitors out? And about the same time they called, we finally got notified, and I said, Put it across our pager and radio system. No sooner had we dropped the announcement than we had our first 911 call in here saying, My neighbors house just disappeared.

Kauffman has talked with an official at the National Weather Service and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Direc By JOHN LATIMER Staff Writer One of the few glitches affecting the emergency response to Wednesdays storm was a lag in the time the National Weather Service issued the tornado warning at 2.56 p.m. and the time the county Emergency Management Agency was notified several minutes later, according to county EMA Director Dan Kauffman. i Members of the countys Hazardous Materials team were surprised when they first heard the warning on the television at their station on Oak Street, he said. That alert came over the TV set, and they called over to the Com Center (the EMA communications center, located in the basement of the municipal building) and said, Hey, whats going on here? Do you know about this? Kauffman said..

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