By Gary Budzak
and Paul Comstock
High winds left their mark in downtown Delaware Tuesday, tearing off the roof of Gibson the Florist, 19 W. Winter St., at about 8:25 p.m.
Delaware Fire Chief John Donahue said the debris landed in the street, possibly knocking limbs off a tree next to 24 W. Winter and possibly damaging that building. Firefighters were unsure if the tree was damaged from wind or the flying roof.
The debris also landed on a car parked in front of Neuhart Cards and Sports Collectibles that was driven away after the wreckage was removed. Donahue said one person at the scene was treated for a minor injury and declined to be taken to a hospital.
Chad Reckard and Brent Davis, apartment residents at 24 W. Winter, told The Gazette the roof lifted off with such a loud roar that other residents there called for them to head outdoors, fearing it was their building that lost its roof.
Because no building exteriors showed damage when viewed from the street, emergency personnel investigated that possibility when they arrived, with rain still falling. They soon pinpointed the damage to 19 W. Winter and searched both buildings to ensure no victims were inside, Donahue said.
“We got the street cleaned up and opened up” Tuesday night, Donahue said. The city’s chief building official was at the scene, and utilities were secured by workers of American Electric Power and Columbia Gas.
Fire Department Capt. John Hall said he was driving city streets at 8:25 p.m., and said an “awesome wind” was tearing through the city.
“We had numerous wires down throughout the city,” Donahue said. “Also, some trees down throughout the city. Probably the biggest wire down was where they’re redoing East Central, right there at Dari Point.”
“We’ve been watching these storms for several days and knew their intensity taking their toll out west,” he said. “You certainly respect their capabilities. Just like when Hurricane Ike came through here. They can provide substantial damage anywhere.”
The Associated Press reported at least 65 tornadoes struck the nation in the past several days, killing 37 people in eight states
“Before the storm came through,” Donahue said, “the National Weather Service placed us under a severe thunderstorm warning. There are smartphone code red weather apps where you can register and get notified. Everyone should have (an emergency) kit. They should always be aware if a storm is coming, what their plan is and where they need to take shelter.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-363-1161 ext. 340 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.