Fayette County pounded by heavy rains, wind
Heavy rains and high winds pounded the region Tuesday night, causing downed trees and power outages.
“The storm entered the area around 6 p.m. and lasted about an hour,” said Brad Rehak, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh. “It then dumped about an inch of rain on the area.”
“We had a lot of trees down in the area, and one into a high-tension line,” said Bill Hennessey, assistant fire chief of the Dawson VFD. “In total, we had four calls tonight for downed trees.”
Mike Grandillo, spokesman for Allegheny Power, said approximately 900 Fayette County customers were left without power — 300 of those were in Connellsville.
“We had trees bring down wires, and apparently the wind was relatively severe and brought down more wires,” Grandillo said. “The most common cause of the outages was the tree branches.”
On Pittsburgh Street, in Connellsville, a tree branch came down, hitting Mark Fletcher’s 1997 Ford truck.
“When I saw it, all I could think was ‘why me?'” Fletcher said.
The truck sustained damage to the fender, hood, door and bed.
Della Lewis, of Connellsville, who saw the tree branch fall, said, “It was scary. The lights went out and all you hear is this creaking and cracking and my husband screams. I thought he was hit by lightning or something, and he said the truck had been hit by the tree.”
Lewis said there are usually more cars parked outside beside the truck, but thankfully they were not there or the damage may have been greater.
Lewis suspects the tree fell after a lightning strike.
“There was lightning and thunder outside and when I opened the door I could smell it burning,” Lewis said.
Another Connellsville resident, Courtney Cunningham, said the high winds damaged some of her property.
“We have a plastic playhouse outside and the wind picked that up and threw it in the pool,” Cunningham said. ” I used to live in Florida and I told my husband that some of these storms are worse than the hurricanes down there.”
In Dunbar Township, Jean Bolish is thankful. The storm felled a 60-foot fir tree that she and her late husband, Ernest, planted in 1957. “I was scared to death. It was a microburst or something.”
The tree fell in the only direction in which it wouldn’t cause any damage. “If it had gone down the other way, it would have taken down my power lines and my car. It just missed everything.”
The tree did damage a small section of a split-rail fence.
Bolish did not see the tree fall. “I was huddled inside praying that the good Lord would save my house. He did.”
The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh said it did not receive any reports of damage. “We stopped issuing warnings because we weren’t getting reports of downed trees or any damage,” Rehak said.