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Bay Times and Record Observer: Clean up begins on Kent Island

Bay Times and Record Observer

Clean up begins on Kent Island

July 26, 2017

By Mike Davis

STEVENSVILLE — The four-minute wrecking ball of a tornado that damaged Kent Island communities on Monday, July 24, and left about 9,000 homes and businesses without electricity may have caused chaos, but on Tuesday, July 25, Kent Islanders and anyone willing to help worked together to begin restoring their communities.

Throughout the Bay City and Ellendale neighborhoods on Tuesday, friends, families and neighbors walked the streets and moved debris out of yards and homes. Tree cutting companies coupled with people with chainsaws were heard cutting through downed trees and thick branches. Trucks carrying bottled water were driving throughout the area.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot toured the Bay City and Ellendale communities Tuesday afternoon to view the damage. He said he expected the Board of Public Works to speak about the tornado’s aftermath during its next meeting Wednesday. He said it was “unbelievable” the amount of destruction the storm caused and that no one was majorly injured.

Franchot stopped and talked with residents to hear their stories and to get first-hand accounts of what happened early Monday morning when the storm hit the area. Franchot’s office announced a temporary waiver on motor fuel tax payments for companies affected by the storm.

“Our primary focus is ensuring that businesses and individuals impacted by this storm can focus on cleaning up and rebuilding their community,” read a statement from Franchot’s office. “My office stands ready to assist and to ease any burdens we can.”

During a morning press conference, Scott Haas, county emergency services director, said all the hotels in the area were fully booked and that five people stayed in the Centreville Middle School emergency shelter, which closed at noon Tuesday.

Haas said the command center at Mowbray Park would be demobilized and returned to Anne Arundel County. He stressed that did not mean support to residents would go away.

“You’ll still have full county forces out there working throughout the day and most likely throughout the weekend,” he said.

Haas said three teams were out in the field Tuesday completing damage assessments. He said the assessments are being completed with county and state resources, with assistance through mutual aid contracts.

One of the reasons for the damage assessments, Haas said, was to see whether the county would qualify for federal assistance money.

Haas, who viewed the tornado damage from a helicopter on Monday with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, said, “It was almost like somebody steered it (the tornado) through the neighborhood away from homes. It’s unbelievable the path it took.”

John Allen, vice president of Delmarva Power, said only 38 customers were still without power as of mid-day Tuesday. Of those 38, he said about 15 homes, including one business, will be unable to receive electricity because the locations are “uninhabitable.”

Allen said Delmarva aimed to have electricity to all able customers by the end of the day Tuesday.

Allen thanked Delmarva customers and the community for their patience and thanked all of its emergency service partners for the smooth work that had taken place.

“The value of those relationships is really tested when you have a situation like this,” Allen said.

Though all downed lines are de-energized, Allen and Haas cautioned that if a personal generator is improperly connected it could “back feed” a downed line and create a hazard. Both stressed caution around downed power lines.

Traffic patterns were returned to normal by 5 p.m. Monday evening. By Tuesday morning access to the damaged areas was unrestricted, Haas said.

Maryland U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen issued a joint statement Monday evening about the tornado and its destruction: “Our thoughts are with the people of Stevensville on Kent Island today as they recover from last night’s storm and possible tornado. We appreciate the speed and skill of the first responders and all those working to return the community to a sense of normalcy in the aftermath of such sudden destruction.”

The statement also offered support to state and local officials in terms of damage assessments and said, if appropriate, they would give strong support for a “federal disaster declaration to make federal funding available for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the storm.”

Haas said his department hoped to have a site up for citizens affected by storm damage to go to speak with an insurance adjustor within a few days, though a location had yet to be determined.

Due to the amount of debris, the county’s Department of Public Works said Batts Neck and Grasonville Transfer Stations would have extended hours the rest of the week. Both transfer stations will operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Saturday and will then go back to regular hours.

Residents and their contractors can dispose of yard waste storm debris, such as downed trees, brush, stumps and chipped yard waste at no fee or need for ticket use. Residents looking to rid of storm related construction and demolition debris can also drop those off at the two transfer stations with no volume restrictions but must use their ticket book for disposal.

Other disposal options include R.B. Baker and Sons Inc. – Rubble Landfill, at 501 4-H Park Road, Queenstown. R.B. Baker and Sons accepts both residential and commercial loads Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. For information contact 410-827-8831.

The Department of Public Works said storm debris removal would take place throughout the week.

Home delivered meals through the Department of Community Services will resume service Wednesday. It was unable to provide meals on Tuesday other than emergency box meals that were available on a case-by-case basis, a news release from the office stated.

Kent Island United Methodist Church, located at 2739 Cox Neck Road, Chester, is accepting donations for victims of Monday’s EF-2 tornado. Donations, excluding clothing, will be accepted 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the church office building. For more information, contact Pastor Amor Woolsey at 410-643-5361 or by email at amor@kiumc.org.

International Fuel Tax Agreement licensees in the county now have until August 31 to file their second quarter IFTA tax returns. An extension was also granted until August 31 for Maryland Motor Fuel license holders to file their tax returns.

For more information about the temporary waiver from the comptroller’s office, call Nathan Essey at 410-260-7498 or email nessey@comp.state.md.us.

To sign up for Citizen Alerts run through the county government, visit www.qac.org and click the “Citizen Alert” button to sign up for text and email emergency notifications. Follow the Department of Emergency Services on Facebook and Twitter for further information.

Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.

http://www.myeasternshoremd.com/qa/community/news/article_cd701ca0-ed26-5824-b3db-073cc48a418e.html

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