Delaware County residents continue to clean up the damage from Monday’s thunderstorm that brought wind gusts of up to 95 mph and prompted about 500 calls to the county’s 911 center. Hundreds of trees were either uprooted completely, had their tops shaved off, or lost branches, damaging power lines and about 45 homes. One house came off its foundation, another was split in two.
On a wooded cul-de-sac in Chadds Ford, it looked like a tornado hit, with barren trees scattered across properties. The National Weather Service says winds came through in straight lines and toppled trees that were decades-old.
Cat Tucker lives there with her two sons and husband. They all said as the storm came through, they never saw such large trees bend and snap that way before.
“We have a set of trees in the back that are very long and slender and so most storms, they wave, they flex pretty good with storms, but they were moving so violently that they started to snap,” said Tucker. “So that was go in the basement territory.”
Tucker said their house has two holes in the roof, and the damaged trees, which homeowners insurance does not cover, cost about $30,000 to clean up.
Her neighbor Susan Dunwody lost a 70-year-old white oak that she hung a swing from 31 years ago, when she first moved in.
“We used to sit on our front porch and you could just look into the trees,” said Dunwody. “Now you sit there and it’s sky. The whole landscape has changed. Every single house was so private. Now the privacy is gone.”
Although there was minimal damage to her house, seven trees uprooted completely, exposing roots that were 6 to 7 feet in diameter.
Delaware County is collecting a list of property damage and the costs not covered by insurance in order to apply for help from state and federal agencies. On Thursday, county officials were joined by state and federal lawmakers to assess the damage.
“As we grow a list of damage, that will be associated with the costs and that will be the argument for additional assistance,” said Ed Kline, Delaware County’s assistant emergency management coordinator.
Kline said this type of storm damage is unusual for the county.
But storms like the one on Monday could become more frequent and more severe due to climate change, according to researchers.
While these types of thunderstorms may not cause as much widespread damage as a hurricane, and may pass quickly, they can have a cumulative impact on the number of damaged properties, resulting in an increase in insurance claims said Yulia Gel, a statistician at the University of Texas who has done research for the insurance industry.
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