Storm strikes as school buses head home

Maple limbs litter the front yard at the home of Barton and Diann Myers on Scar Hill Road in Antrim Township, one of the areas hard hit by a storm Tuesday afternoon.

A storm with wind gusts up to 65 mph slammed into the area Tuesday afternoon, packing a particularly hard punch across a southern swath of Antrim Township from the Coseytown-Worleytown area to Shady Grove.

The storm hit just as the last elementary bus was leaving, according to Travis Blubaugh, transportation director for the Greencastle-Antrim School District, who said it was the worst in his five years with the district.

When he saw how bad it was, bus drivers were radioed and told to pull off the road if they could find a safe place. One bus was stuck on U.S. 11, another hit limbs and two bus drivers headed in opposite directions on Scar Hill Road ended up stopped and looking at each other across a downed wire.

The situation was scary, but bus drivers did an excellent job keeping the kids calm and safe and communicating with his office, Blubaugh said.

Talking to one of the drivers on Scar Hill Road, Blubaugh said it was so quiet he couldn’t believe there were 20-some children on the bus.

Parents were notified about delays by School Messenger, but some did not have Internet access because of power outages. About 4,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm, according to the Franklin County Department of Emergency Services.

Some children were taken back to school and were picked up by their parents. School district administrators stayed until 6:30 or 7 p.m. to make sure all children and drivers were home safely.

Blubaugh said he received an email from a parent Wednesday morning who said their children were scared, but the bus driver made them feel better by having everyone sing together.

The Franklin County Department of Emergency Services was “extraordinarily busy,” with the majority of calls for downed trees and wires coming in between 3:19 and 6:30 p.m. A spokesman said Antrim Township was particularly hard hit.

It got so dark at the home of Barton and Diann Myers on Scar Hill Road that they couldn’t see their neighbor’s house and the blowing wind made it rain sideways.

Limbs ripped off the big maple tree they planted around 1973 when they moved into the house were all over the front yard. Barton Myers said they will cut out the broken pieces and try to save the tree.

“We’re lucky, no one was hurt, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Diann Myers said. “It’s definitely a mess.”

Just to the east, also on Scar Hill Road, Ronnie Martin of Clear Spring was cleaning up downed limbs in front of a rental property he owns.

“We’re pretty lucky compared to a lot of people,” Martin said.

Brad Graham, Antrim Township administrator, shared a story about a motorist who got out of his truck to pull a branch off Gearhart Road in the Shady Grove area and heard a massive oak fall on his pickup and bring down a power line. The truck was severely damaged, Graham said.

Trees and limbs were downed across the township, as well as in the Borough of Greencastle.

Damage also was reported west to Montgomery Township, east to Waynesboro and Washington Township and to the north in Fannett Township and Timmons Mountain, as well as the Caledonia area along U.S. 30, according to the department of emergency services, which received 120 9-1-1 calls during the storm.

The damage to trees and utility poles appears to have been caused by straight-line winds, according to Aaron Tyburski of the National Weather Service in State College, who said reports from emergency management representatives do not indicate any tornado activity in Franklin County.