Monday, 03 June 2019 14:46

Body Shops Prepare as Storms Go on Throughout the Northeast Region

Written by David Hurst, The Tribune-Democrat
A storm caused a tree to fall across Killen School Road in Barr Township, PA, on Wednesday, May 29. A storm caused a tree to fall across Killen School Road in Barr Township, PA, on Wednesday, May 29. Courtesy of John Rucosky, The Tribune Democrat


Jackson Township, NJ, fire officials were dealing with a number of fallen trees, including ones that closed parts of Dishong Mountain and Blackburn roads on May 29 as storms continued to hit the region.

Conemaugh Township Fire Department was sent to Quemahoning Dam Road, because wires were reported down along the roadway, while another fallen tree was removed from the area of Penn Avenue and Abex roads.


“We’ve had residents call us reporting several trees falling on their properties—as many as ten,” Jackson Township Manager Dave Hirko said, blaming the combination of heavy rainfall and winds.


At one point, Jackson Township Fire Department had water flowing into its own station bays, he added.


“There’s just nowhere for the water to go,” Hirko said.


A powerful thunderstorm on May 28 downed trees and utility lines, causing roadside issues across the region that responders continued working to address.


While a tornado was spotted in the Penn Run area of Indiana County, 911 officials in Cambria and Somerset counties reported minor weather-related issues occurred throughout the region overnight.


No injuries were reported, 911 supervisors said.


The storm was the latest in a series that have occurred over the past week—and with a familiar weather pattern creating an opportunity for more later this week, Gov. Tom Wolf was urging Pennsylvania residents to stay alert—and be ready for the worst.


“We know the threat of severe weather is real and Pennsylvanians need to be prepared,” Wolf said. “Please remember to use caution and stay tuned into weather reports for any important news as inclement weather develops.”


Rainy May


The past few weeks have been very wet, but the center that tracks rainfall totals in the northeastern United States says the monthly total is typical for May.


May is often the Johnstown region’s wettest month, with more than 4.5 inches falling on average.


As of May 28, the Johnstown-Cambria County Regional Airport’s weather station had recorded 4.07 inches.


Last May’s total topped that, but with a few days left in the month, including Tuesday, May 28 night’s rainfall still not counted, it’s possible totals could surpass the average, staff with the North East Regional Climate Center reported.

Hail Sale


Parts of Stonycreek Township in Cambria County, PA, and Geistown were hit hard by hail in last week’s storm and that included Thomas Team Honda’s Bedford Street lot.


Nearly 220 vehicles—most of the dealership’s inventory—sustained damage from hail, some of which reportedly were the size of golf balls, staff said.


“Every vehicle outside on our lot was impacted—whether it was new or used,” Thomas Team Honda’s General Sales Manager Tim McMinn said.


“I’ve been in the business for 15 years and we’ve never had to deal with hail damage in that time.”


The dealership is aiming to make the best of it, he said.


“Something like this happens ... and you have a hail sale,” McMinn said, noting that $2,000 price cuts have been added to every new car’s “best price,” as well as $1,500 from used vehicles.


Insurance adjusters have already toured the lot to calculate damages and the dealership is fixing vehicles on an ongoing basis, but for now, bargains are available for those who aren’t concerned with the cosmetic damage, McMinn said. Vehicle titles remain unchanged and full factory warranties still apply, he added.


Inside the dealership’s showroom, one vehicle’s hood was repaired on one side to show that the company’s body shop can fix the damage.


Laurel Auto Group was also advertising a "Hail Sale" in the wake of storm damage inflicted on its lot.


Hail Help


Several of the area’s insurance providers reported that hail claims surged in the days following the tornado on May 30.


Providers said many of those claims originated from the Geistown and Richland areas, but declined to provide estimates on their claim totals.


Brian Hollern of Hollern and Sons Auto Sales on Scalp Avenue said his dealership partnered with Dentworks Paintless Dent Repair of Johnstown this week to serve as an emergency repair site for the region’s damaged vehicles.


“Our area doesn’t get too much hail damage, but after last week’s storm, the influx of vehicles they were seeing was too big for one building to handle,” Hollern said.

Dentworks, which uses equipment to fix dents without harming a vehicle’s finish, responded by bringing in a hail damage repair team from Georgia to assist, he added.


Hollern said the company is also partnering with insurance agencies, including Erie, to get damage corrected.


He said the backlog of repairs should be completed over the next few weeks.


Tornado Totals


The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh sent a crew to the Penn Run area of Indiana County and was able to confirm a low-level EF-0 tornado touched down there.


No structural damage was reported by the tornado.


But it’s the third twister in the county in a week.


Before this month, only 13 were confirmed in Indiana County in the nearly 70 years prior, National Weather Service officials reported.


A National Weather Service Meteorologist in State College said there were no indications of any tornado activity on the ground in the west-central Pennsylvania territory—Cambria County included—on May 28.


There were several reports further east in the Lancaster area that were being reviewed.


Pennsylvania, on average, records 16 tornadoes a year, and this year’s total is already at 20 through five months.


Tornadoes are rated by speed on a six-level scale and as of May 28, none were higher than an F2 level, Mike Jurewicz, meteorologist, said.


We thank The Tribune-Democrat for reprint permission.

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