Governor Tom Wolf walked through the path of destruction left by a tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township Wednesday night. Storefronts are barely recognizable and parts of roofing, concrete blocks and other debris were scattered throughout the parking lot of this business community. Despite the damage, authorities say the town is lucky.
“Two things we need to be thankful for, the first is so few people were hurt and the six people who were hurt, the injuries were minor. It’s a miracle,” Governor Tom Wolf, said.
Authorities confirmed it was an EF-e tornado that touched down. At least 23 businesses were damagaged or destroyed. Some buildings will have to be demolished, according to the Wilkes-Barre Township police chief.
“Local emergency responders and PEMA will work together to figure out exactly how much damage was done,” Wolf said.
Then, they will determine whether they fall within the federal threshold to receive any aid. The National Weather Service says the tornado, with 130-mile per hour winds, left a three quarter of a mile trail. While tornados are not uncommon in Pennsylvania, this one left more than physical scars.
“I’ve been with the National Weather Service for 27 years, mostly in New York and I’ve never seen damage like this,” Dave Nicosia, with the National Weather Service, said.
The storm destroyed a 1000 gallon liquid propane tank that crews were still working to clean Thursday afternoon. UGI also shut off natural gas to 50 customers until electricity could be turned back on. County leaders say the cleanup could take days but the community will bounce back.
“We are slowly working through this until we can utilize this area again. Please stay clear of this area while we work together,” Dave Pedri, Luzerne County Manager, said.