Residents survey storm aftermath

PARKERSBURG – In the hours after an intense storm ripped through the area, some local residents got out to survey the damage left in the storm’s wake.

Several trees, or substantial limbs, were seen throughout downtown Parkersburg and in adjacent residential areas.

Heather Stanley said she watched the storm unfold from her apartment on Market Street.

“It sounded like a freight train,” she said. “I took one look out the window and I saw metal flying around; it was dark and crazy.”

Stanley said she heard glass breaking and hid after that.

“I write for a living and I’m dumbfounded. I don’t have the words for it,” she said. “After I heard that glass break I decided it was time to go hide somewhere.”

One Juliana Street resident said the storm took out a tree that she had considered having removed but decided not to after she was told it would be too expensive.

Joy Held said the tree was one of two large trees behind the house.

“We had a tree taken down about a month ago,” she said. “We had our tree fellow look at them and he said it would cost too much to have them removed; they are both about 200 years old, he said.”

Held said after the storm they could see the tree was hollow inside.

Sandra Wilson, who lives on Juliana Street across from Held, said she did not suffer any damage to her property after the storm. In the 2012 derecho, the third floor of her house was damaged after a tree from her property and a neighbor’s property tore through the roof.

“It left me alone this time,” she said.

Deanna Gainer, who lives on Ann Street, said she had no idea of the storm’s extent.

“I didn’t hear a lot,” she said. “The walls on these houses are pretty thick and I didn’t hear a thing. I noticed my plant holder was leaning over and I came out to straighten it up.”

Gainer said when she saw the two trees fell across the street from her she realized how bad the storm was.

Montgomery Cristeia of Laird Avenue had electrical lines on his van after a tree next door was knocked over bringing down powerlines. Being an electrician, he was able to move the lines and get his van out from under the lines.

”This was inevitable,” he said. ”I moved here eight years ago and I knew that tree would be coming down and taking out the powerlines at some point.”

Cristeia said the oak tree had obvious signs of rot.

After the tree came down, they tried to alert officials of the weight on the powerlines and the possibility that if it came down other nearby poles could be brought down as well.

”It is going to snap,” Cristeia said. ”You try to prevent further damage, but no one does anything.

”With (live) lines in the road when they are wet, there is an electrocution hazard. Someone should have been out to clip the line high enough so it is not out in the road,” he said.

Lela Vasquez was sitting on her front porch Tuesday afternoon looking at the damage. She has lived in her Laird Avenue home for 19 years.

She has called the city and the electric company about the tree for more than 12 years, she said.

”I never heard anything from anyone,” she said. ”I got passed back and forth. Now the electric company has to come out here and do something.”

Every time there has been a big storm, Vasquez said she has called someone to see about having something done with that tree.

The tree fell down on her 2006 Chevy Trail Blazer, a car she has had for three months.

Vasquez is hoping the tree will be removed quickly as additional damage could bring down other poles in the neighborhood, she said.

”My damage has already been done,” Vasquez said. ”I am afraid another storm is going to come through soon and it will all come down.”

Keith Mayer of Washington Avenue had part of a tree come down on his house at the corner of Maxwell Avenue.

”Like everyone else, we were in the house and heard the storm come through,” he said. ”Everything got real dark and then the high winds really started coming through.”

They were on their back porch and watching the weather kick up.

”We heard a ‘pop’ kind of sound,” Mayer said. ”My wife said she had heard that kind of sound before. She said, ‘I think something hit the house.”’

After the storm, their family was in a clean-up mode, picking up fallen branches and contacting someone to get the tree off of their house and to take care of another branch that was possibly threatening their roof and chimney.

”The trees are part of our neighborhood, especially here along Washington Avenue where you have all the nice tree lines,” Mayer said. ”You take the good and the bad sometimes.”

They were taking pictures of the damage for their insurance company and getting things lined up to take care of the damage.

”You get the right people to take care of it and you do all the small stuff yourself,” Mayer said.

A worker at Community Bank said the storm did not seem as intense as they could see it was later.

“All I can remember it got really dark and then all of a sudden there was a like a crack or a noise,” said Shelia Mann, who works for Community Bank in a smaller building across the street from the main Juliana Street branch. “Everything in our building went out. Other than that I don’t remember anything and there were no other noises.”

Warner Kia, 501 Seventh St., sustained damage to two windows and two vehicles during Tuesday afternoon’s severe thunderstorm.

“One window blew in and another window blew out,” said Don Warner, dealership owner.

The broken windows were in a storage room above the detailing garage adjacent to Green Street.

Clean-up commenced immediately with dealership employees sweeping up all loose glass out of the roadway in-between traffic flows.

Plywood boards were immediately placed into the open spaces and there is no timetable for repairs at this time.

No one was injured during the incident.

(Joe Albright contributed to this story.)