Delco still cleaning up from storm that brought wind gusts of up to 95 miles per hour

Monday’s storm brought down hundreds of trees across the region, damaging about 45 homes in Delaware County. Officials are seeking state and federal aid to help with cleanup.

Officials speaking with homeowners after severe storms knocked down trees

Cat and Robert Tucker (left) talk with Chadds Ford director of emergency services Tim Boyce (center) about the estimated cost of tree cleanup from a storm that took down many trees on their property. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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.

An uprooted tree lying on the ground
A strong storm that hit Chadds Ford, Pa., on August 7, 2023, uprooted trees and damaged property. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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.”

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The Turner family posing on their front porch
Cat and Robery Turner with their sons Miles and Austin on their porch in Chadds Ford, Pa., after a heavy storm with strong straight winds destroyed trees on their property. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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.”

Cat Tucker watches from her porch as a television crew films a mangled tree swaying in her from yard. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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.

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“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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