FORT ALLEN (KDKA) — Officials continue to assess the damage and destruction left behind in parts of Westmoreland County after strong storms moved through the area Wednesday.
Emergency management authorities estimate that about 90 homes were damaged by the wicked weather. Dan Stevens, of Westmoreland County Emergency Management, said “out of that 90 homes, it appears that… somewhere in the area of about 30 have been destroyed.” Authorities say they expect those numbers to rise as they survey more areas.
National Weather Service officials say they have determined the tornado was an EF2.
Now, residents are picking up the pieces. On the day after the storm, a path of destruction has been left on Fosterville Road in Fort Allen.
“We saw just a big cloud forming and we thought it was birds flying around and it was all this debris,” said Brittany Zimmerman, a resident.
She said that parts of her home have been found in yards on the next street over.
“It only lasted about 15 seconds, that’s all; and then I came up and looked out this window here and saw all this,” said Donna Ross of the damage. “I’m like, ‘Wow.’”
“You look around here and it’s just a disaster area and the house next door, there’s nothing wrong with it,” added Tony Santone, a neighbor.
Lisa Boord’s home may have been saved by a massive tree. Did it somehow redirect the storm? Who knows, but she thinks so.
“That’s the oldest tree in Fort Allen,” said Boord. “It saved our house. It saved my son’s life; he was in the basement. My neighbors, it’s devastating. We’re all a family here.”
One of the worst hit homes on Fosterville is a split-level. The image is sad, but the story behind it is perhaps sadder.
“They just sold that house and a young couple bought it,” said Ross. “They’ve been painting and doing stuff to move in, and from what I understand they were supposed to move in this weekend.”
“I saw this gray ‘V’ forming above the house next door and it started twirling, so I just started to run,” said Teresa Marchelovich of the storm. “My son was screaming, get in the house.’”
Marchelovich’s 13-year-old son likely saved his mother’s life. Their remodeled home suffered heavy damage. There are cracks in the wall, and broken glass.
“It’s not worth anything, I have my family and we can rebuild and that’s all that matters,” she said of the destruction. “We’re very blessed. This is all materialistic, you can rebuild; you can’t replace a life.”
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