Wild February Weather Causes Damage, Flash Flooding

PITTSTON TOWNSHIP -- Tornado warnings, roofs blown off, people trapped in homes, and property damage all over came with Saturday's wild weather.

Six families are out of their homes after that storm rolled through part of Luzerne County Saturday afternoon.

The Pittston Township assistant fire chief tells Newswatch16 that 15 to 20 homes were damaged in the neighborhood of Chapel Road because of that storm.

A video sent to Newswatch 16 shows the storm passing near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport after it made its way through part of Luzerne County, ripping trees out of the ground, damaging cars, and tearing off roofs from homes.

Pat Popielarz lives in one affected neighborhood in Pittston Township.

"Couldn't get out the front or back door because the trees were blocking the entrances. Looked out the front, roof and window totally off and everything was all over. The trees left standing were covered in insulation all over the place, and it was bad. It was bad. I was just a nervous wreck," said Popielarz.

"It's just destroyed, everything around. There's trees down, windows around, roof, pieces of debris, just devastated," said Chantelle Antal of Pittston Township.

Joe Pupa was one of the first firefighters to make it to Chapel Road, where it all happened.

"We're probably about 100 acres up here that are affected. Homes are pretty far apart, so the terrain was hard. Wires are down everywhere. Poles are down," said Pupa.

"Many people displaced. We have township and other crews going door to door doing welfare checks," said Pittston Township Supervisor Frank Sciabacucchi.

Firefighters tell Newswatch16 that everyone who was stuck in their homes has been taken out safely. It was a difficult task because of all the downed power lines and fallen trees.

"The roads were closed in four or five places, so there was a lot of people that walked a long way," said Pittston Township Asst. Fire Chief Tony Angelella.

Families affected by the storm were moved to nearby hotels until the power is back and the roads are cleared.

"At this point, it's a half dozen families that we're directly assisting, and we're going to see and reach out to anyone who may need assistance up the hill," said Dave Skutnik, American Red Cross.

First responders admit there's a lot of work that needs to be done to clean up.

"It's going to take a long time. This is going to take a long time. There was a lot of damage done here. There's a couple houses that are going to be completely razed," Angelella said.

"Take a look at all the homes that have been affected and we're going to determine whether it not it was a tornado and confirm that," said Dave Elmore, Luzerne County EMA.

Officials with the National Weather Service are expected to be in Pittston Township as well as Moosic on Sunday so they can investigate the damage and determine if it was, in fact, a tornado that touched down in the area.

The strong winds and heavy rains also knocked down plenty of trees in several parts of our area including Route 307 near Lake Scranton in Lackawanna County.

All the rain has caused flash flooding on streets in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Plains Township.

Thousands of customers have lost power.

Power Outage Maps:
PPL Customers: https://www.pplelectric.com/outages.aspx
UGI Customers: https://www.ugi.com/ugi-electric-service-outage-map/
Penelec Customers: http://outages.firstenergycorp.com/pa.html

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