High winds hammer Fay-West area

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 12:11 a.m.

The winds that blew through the Connellsville area on Tuesday came from the same large storm system that tore through Arkansas and other Southern states on Monday.

“It is a very powerful system,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Hendricks from Moon, adding there should not be any strong winds on Wednesday or for the rest of the week.

The winds caused plenty of problems, bringing down trees and utility lines and causing other damage.

Terri Knupp, area manager for West Penn Power, said about 2,700 customers were without power in the Uniontown district during the peak of the storm. And 1,700 were without power in the Pleasant Valley area, which includes Connellsville and Bullskin.

Various types of damage were reported around Connellsville. A tree came down on an apartment building at the corner of West Green and South Eighth streets.

A resident of the apartment building, who declined to be identified, said she was watching television when she heard a loud bang. She went out on her porch and saw the branch against the house. The tree landed on the power lines for the building. West Penn Power was on site, as were officials from New Haven Hose, Fayette EMS and Connellsville police.

No injuries were reported.

There was a report of a trampoline blown onto Eighth Street, which carries Route 119 north through Connellsville. That was rounded up before it could cause problems.

A sign on Bud Murphy's on McCormick Avenue was damaged by the wind.

Shingles blew off the abandoned WCVI Building on East Crawford Avenue, falling onto the sidewalks and pavement near the structure.

Joe Orszulak, owner of Kathryn's Jewelry, located down the hill from WCVI, said the building often sheds shingles in heavy wind.

“I tried to buy (the WCVI Building) 30 years ago when I had my business located on the ground floor (of that building,) said Orszulak. “But the owner wouldn't sell.”

The structure, owned by Fayette County, is in bad shape. Firefighters have been told to stay out of the structure, in case of a fire. Their job would be to protect the surrounding buildings.

The building was almost sold recently to a developer from Arizona during a tax sale, but that person backed out and refused to take the deed, once he learned of the condition of the structure.

Trees were reported down at other locations, keeping fire departments and police busy until the winds died down later in the afternoon.

“Unfortunately, we will get rain through the week,” said Hendricks, who added earlier forecasts of high water (below action and flood stages) had been reduced as it became clear the area would get less rain than originally forecast. “The rivers are fairly low, and we expect rises of three to six feet (well below flood levels).

“The way things are, we're not looking for any great surprise,” Hendricks added.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3538.

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