GLEN MILLS, Pa. (CBS) — An EF-2 tornado touched down in Thornbury Township on Halloween night, destroying and damaging dozens of homes. The twister, with wind speeds between 111 to 135 mph, left roughly three-quarters-of-a-mile of destruction in its wake.
A state of emergency was declared in the township.
The tornado, which touched down around 11:30 p.m., destroyed eight homes and damaged 30 others. Township officials say eight homes are total losses.
“It doesn’t take an engineer to look at these properties and see they’re destroyed. No roof and things like that. It’s just about people,” Delaware County Emergency Services Director Tim Boyce said.
Residents say they had mere minutes to react to tornado warnings. Dorinda Shank was sleeping when her power went off. She and her husband stepped out in the darkness and realized their garage was ripped off and her car was crushed.
“And that window started to go. It was pouring in over here so Dave stepped out to see and then our garage was gone. So, but here’s the deal — everyone is safe. This is devastating but we all have our health,” Shank said.
The severe weather toppled trees throughout the region and caused tens of thousands of power outages across the Delaware Valley.
“This is an enormous event in a short period of time,” Jim Raith, chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Thornbury Township, said during a press conference on Friday morning.
In Glen Mills, a tree completely took out the front of a home on Chelsea Court.
Glenn Mills , PA pic.twitter.com/VSzvs0NmOK
— Will Kenworthy (@WILL___CBS3) November 1, 2019
Boyce tells Eyewitness News, during the height of the storm around midnight, Delaware County was inundated with emergency calls. He says most of the storm damage occurred in Glen Mills, particularly in Thornbury Township.
“There was mayhem out here,” Boyce said.
Twenty people in the Thornbury Township neighborhood had to be evacuated last night.
Homes had irreparable damage done to them and trees were ripped from their roots when the twister moved through.
“The emergency lasted for a good hour but we’re being told by residents it was merely just about a minute of severe winds, severe sound and noise that passed through and then the storm raged. That severe wind this neighborhood suffered was probably only about 45 seconds,” Boyce said.
Crews have been working to cover up homes that had their roofs ripped off. The entire neighborhood is currently without power.
“It looked like a bomb went off in this block,” Boyce said.
Raith called it “catastrophic.”
“I saw some of my friends, tears streaming down their face,” he said.
The tornado destroyed Lou Flagiello’s home.
“Pieces of insulation started flying around, drywall. It scared me because of the lights being off, there was no electricity,” Flagiello said.
His roof also caved in and he’s just happy his wife and dog are safe.
“The one gentleman said it would be an engineering nightmare,” he said.
Kristin Bevilacqua-Nowell, who has four children under the age of 6, says no one was hurt after their window shattered in on top of them.
“They were actually sleeping, they slept through it,” she said. “Two girls who had the window blown in were covered in leaves and soaking wet from the rain.”
Neighbors say plenty of them have bumps and bruises but no serious injuries have been reported.
“We haven’t experienced something like this in Delaware County in a long time,” Boyce said.
Just about two miles away, and in the path of the severe weather, sat Charley McGrath and his family.
Though his two-century-old home withstood the beating, his 10-acre property did not fare nearly as well.
Two vehicles were damaged and 40 trees snapped, including a nearly 500-year-old oak that snapped like a match.
“In my mind, that tree was the soul of the property,” McGrath said.
McGrath estimates the damage to his property is at more than $200,000, but he’s also counting his blessings that none of those trees fell anywhere near his house.
“That would have went through the roof in a second and taken everyone out, so we were very fortunate. I feel like God was smiling on us,” he said.
Glen Mills school is open as a shelter for those who need it.
CBS3’s Dan Koob and Greg Argos contributed to this report.