By Matthew Rice
‘Downburst’ tears through Granville
Anyone glued to the Doppler radar June 30 could have seen it coming.
Two modest-sized but angry-looking red dots representing thunderstorms converged just south of Granville on the computer screen.
Within minutes the screen images translated into real rain and high winds, damaging homes and knocking down trees across the town.
On East Main Street, Jerry and Patti Panza got a scare as well as possibly the most damage of the storm.
The top half of a large pine tree from their front yard snapped off just a few feet from their home, toppling onto it and striking the main part of the house before rolling onto an addition where it came to rest.
The tree did additional damage as it broke when it struck the house, sending a second piece of tree approximately 20 feet long over the house and onto the garage.
The storm had been so loud at its height Patti Panza said she heard the downstairs window shatter over the tree striking the side of the house. Panza said the tree brought down live power wires she could see arcing along the side of the house as she began to survey the damage.
“It’s worse than I thought,” Jerry Panza said while surveying the damage in daylight the next day. In addition to the broken window, the French doors on the porch had not been broken, but the entire casing had been pushed into the house several inches somehow without breaking. Slate tiles littered the lawn and the porch from the damaged roof and the wire that supplied power to house the day before was lying coiled on the lawn like a dead snake. Panza said they were fully insured, having recently beefed up their coverage only a short time before the storm. They held up work on the house while awaiting a claims adjuster.
The numbers on the cost of the damage from the storm were not complete as of press time but expected to run into five figures, Panza said.
Wednesday morning Calvin Bourn used a hydraulic (boom) to pick up the tree before depositing it on the lawn to cut it up. Bourn said the Panzas were lucky; he saw two other trees on the property he thought should be cut and soon.
Senior meteorologist Jeremy Davis with North Country Weather said the thunderstorms were generated when rising heated air disrupted cold air aloft.
“Everything just kind of popped up in the afternoon,” Davis said.
The storms, despite high winds gusting at 60 mph or more, moved relatively slowly. The lingering storms dumped upward of 2 inches of rain across the area.
“I lost my pole barn,” Dwayne Dodge said Tuesday night as the storm blew out of town. The high winds ripped half of the roof from the structure tearing large support poles out of the ground and throwing the section of roof and other debris more than 50 yards from the rest of the barn.
Granville Engine & Hose Company and Granville Hook & Ladder members responded to a number of calls throughout the village and town from downed trees along Route 149 to Quaker Street where a motorist had a close call with a falling tree.
The storm left knocked power out in some parts of the village while others saw power interrupted only to flicker back on.
“It was a sudden downburst; it just started raining … and then this tree fell and then that and that one,” Renee Thorp of East Main Street recalled, pointing to locations around her house. Thorp said within the first few moments of the storm stating every tree that fell was already on the ground. Her home was not damaged but she estimated she lost four trees including a large cedar in the front yard. The storm’s intensity had Thorp and her daughter waiting out the storm in an interior hallway, she said.
Mario Torres, head football head coach at Granville Jr./Sr. High School, said he was watching the storm on his back porch with his two sons when trees in his neighbor’s yard began to topple over one by one toward his Quaker Street home.
The neighbors lost three trees, filling the back yard with a tangle of branches but the damage was minimal, he said.
Although Torres’ car was parked in the driveway and was completely covered by a falling tree, the car appeared to have received only minor dings and dents with no broken glass.
Ben Egnew, of Plainview, Texas, said he happened to be traveling through Granville with his stepson Karl Oakley while in the process of moving. A large limb fell from a tree on the lawn of the former Masonic Lodge, the Tolworthy House, on West Main Street completely blocking the street. Hauling a large trailer behind his pickup, Egnew said he couldn’t back up as traffic piled up behind him, so he did the one thing a man with a trailer full of power tools could do – he got out of the truck and started cutting. The next thing he knew several people were in the street helping him move the large sections of the tree-sized limb.
“It ended up being a gathering of people that didn’t have anything better to do,” Egnew said with a laugh.