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Bridget Wingert: Happy to Be Here

High winds and heavy rain

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If you’ve ever had a house fire or a flood on your property, you know the first inclination – after ensuring that no one is hurt – is to bring things back to normal.
You want to clean up, salvage whatever survives and restore order.
That’s what Matt Maximuck and his family did after last Thursday’s tornado struck his 100-acre Buckingham Township farm and garden center. It’s one of Bucks County iconic farms, complete with solar panels and greenhouses filled with ornamental plants and surrounded by fields laid out in neat rows of corn and other vegetables. And there’s a farm store that sells produce and supplies.
On Monday, he was on the phone with an isurance adjustor who told him he should have left things as they were.
But Maximuck’s is a seasonal business that had to be ready for business right away.
He told one media reporter, “The storm sounded like a freight train.”
He said, “It blew the roof off my barn and shattered the glass windows on my greenhouses. It was a mess.”
And there was more than broken glass to clear. Hundreds of potted plants were arranged in front of the store and greenhouses. “We cleaned it up, my wife and family,” he said on Monday. The broken glass was gone but the greenhouses – windowless in places – still bore evidence of damage from the storm.
Buckingham Police Sgt. John Bailey said that except for many downed wires and trees, and the Maximuck damage, there was no significant destruction in the township. “It just came down out of Plumstead and moved on to Solebury and New Hope,” he said.
Beginnings of the tornado were felt as far north as Quakertown, where Anusha Viswanathan was picking up her children at their preschool.

“The tornado warning went off on our phone as we buckled them in, she said, “and the sky looked very strange. We rushed back in. Within 15 minutes, there was torrential and horizontal rain, with swirling winds blowing, and a very dark sky.
“Many trees were down. Another parent felt her car being lifted off the ground, and she ran back inside. A couple of signs were broken in multiple pieces. One sign was bent almost parallel to the ground.”
The rush was over in just a few moments but the rain continued. “Then sunshine skies. We went out and saw the downed trees, but no damage to the building.”
Although a giant tree crashed into a Plumstead Township garage there were few, if any, other damages to buildings. Plumstead Police Chief David Mettin said that the storm felled trees and cut power lines. “We came out pretty good,” the chief said.
The storm whipped across Carversville Road to Solebury Township, where Chief Dominick Bellizzie saw similar damage. Trees were down, blocking River Road as they had done only two weeks earlier in a heavy storm. Many residents lost power but it was restored within hours.
Cpl. Candice Trembley of New Hope police was at home watching television during the storm. She rushed outside to see what was happening. She didn’t see the destruction that Lower Bucks County was experiencing although media reports highlighted the New Hope area but more major damage occurred farther south towards Washington Crossing and across the Delaware in Mercer County, N.J. Her story echoed those of area chiefs – power lines down, trees blocking roads.
On the weekend, chain saws cut away trees and power company crews were restoring services.
A second, EF3 tornado struck the Bensalem Township area causing additional damage in an area that had been hit by severe flooding in the storm two weeks ago. Faulkner Auto Group’s buildings on Street Road in Bensalem sustained heavy damage. Winds there lifted cars off the ground and caved in rooftops.
I was away from home during the tornado but I heard that it came close. The only time I witnessed a tornado was many years ago on a family vacation driving down I-95 in a Winnebago. As we passed near Birmingham, Ala., we could see a black funnel in the distance. We pulled under an overpass and waited until it appeared the danger had passed.
It was a memorable, frightening experience, the kind we do not expect in Bucks County.


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