MOUNT GILEAD — Mount Gilead Mayor Jamie Brucker met informally with candidate for Congress Tamie Wilson and several residents Friday on the Mount Gilead Square. He told the story of how the village, police, fire fighters and Emergency Management (EMA) worked together in the early hours after the storm ripped through Mount Gilead Monday, June 13.
Right after the first storm came through Mount Gilead; Brucker went to the firehouse and met with the chief. Rain was pouring down and hail pelted against his face as he struggled to get into his truck.
A high pressure gas line ruptured just north of town where a tree had fallen down on the line. Brucker said you could hear the gas gushing out like a waterfall. Brucker went door to door with a firefighter to knock on doors and evacuate homes in the area.
They called Mount Gilead Superintendent Zack Howard who opened the school for evacuees.
Street Department crews were called in at 11:35 p.m., but soon realized they couldn’t do much to open streets since electric lines were down and some were tangled in trees. There was too much danger of wires being live to do anymore in the dark.
Police, firefighters and others met up with Brucker at the fire house close to 2 a.m. after being out to assess the situation and take care of evacuees.
They had no choice but to close all the state routes coming into the village due to the downed trees and power lines. It took about three days to get all the roads cleared and opened. It was all hands on deck as Brucker worked to coordinate with village crews, EMA Director Harsch and utilities.
“I didn’t get much sleep this week,” said Brucker.
Reflecting on the aftermath of the storm, Brucker said there was no warning of the intensity of wind and possibility of tornados.
“The storm wasn’t picked up on the radar for warning,” Brucker said.
Weather experts believe the tornado formed over Mount Gilead because of the way tree tops were broken off and twisted. Linemen came in from Pennsylvania to work on electric lines. They told Brucker the damage at the north side of Mount Gilead was the worst they had seen.
Brucker feels relief as roads are open and electricity is back in most of the village. He said there are a few homes that still need work on connections. He knows of four houses that were damaged where trees landed on homes. Power lines are all off the road now.
“The worst damage from the storm was in the northeast quarter of town,” Brucker said.
Susan Grundy asked if there is a possibility of FEMA compensation for the village. Brucker said Harsch thought it is unlikely. People’s insurance will need to cover most damage. However, Harsch said Brucker and all who worked on the cleanup should make an accounting of their time.
Brucker said the street crews will continue to pick up yard waste and debris from the storm as long as it takes. They expect this to take two to three weeks as people continue to pull debris to the road.