Friday, July 29, 2022

Officials Cite Effective Alert, Quick Response to Twister:
UPDATE: Initial estimates show tornado damages at $1.2 million

JAVA — Initial estimates show damages of $1.2 million in the aftermath of Thursday’s tornado that tore a path of destruction along Route 78. A total of 24 structures were damaged, said Director Brian Meyers of Wyoming County Fire & Emergency Management.

They included two barns demolished; three garages or barns with major damage; eight houses with moderate damage; and 11 other properties with minor damage.

“All roads were reopened yesterday afternoon,” Meyers said. “Cleanup on private property will be ongoing for some time. We are working with some (residents) without insurance to possibly provide assistance to them in cleanup efforts.”

The EF2 tornado that roared through the area was one of the strongest ever recorded in Wyoming County. It touched down at 10:40 a.m. shortly after a warning was issued by the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

The tornado’s winds reached about 115 mph and it left a path of destruction about 500 miles wide.

We do ask that anyone who has received damage to their personal property, including homes, barns automobiles, etc. to please contact our office at oem@wyomingco.net or 585-786-8867 and provide: name, address, phone number, extent of damage, and if your property is insured,” Meyers said. “We are working with NYS to determine if thresholds have been met for any assistance.

Hundreds of trees were downed and power outages occurred as the twister made its way about 10 miles east, before dissipating a short distance away from Route 19 in Gainesville.

Beyond the destruction, the storm was unexpected — no significant storms had been forecast before the tornado warning was issued at 10:37 a.m. But emergency personnel, municipalities and utility crews responded quickly after the notification systems swung into action.

“Three minutes passed from the original warning until the tornado touched down,” Meyers said. “The coordination between the town, county and state agencies did work pretty well. We have a good working relationship with our partners and it was highlighted yesterday.”

A total of 1,436 people were without electricity at the peak of the incident, he said. Power was restored by 9 p.m. More than a dozen trees were downed and blocking Route 78, which was closed for about four hours. The American Red Cross assisted one family which wasn’t able to return to their home.

“We do ask that anyone who has received damage to their personal property, including homes, barns automobiles, etc. to please contact our office at oem@wyomingco.net or 585-786-8867 and provide: name, address, phone number, extent of damage, and if your property is insured,” Meyers said. “We are working with NYS to determine if thresholds have been met for any assistance.”

A long list of agencies responded to the emergency, including:

  • Wyoming County Emergency Services personnel.
  • The Bliss, Gainesville and North Java fire departments.
  • State police and county sheriffs deputies.
  • The county Highway and Building & Code Enforcement departments.
  • The Arcade, Java and Wethersfield highway departments.
  • The state Department of Transportation.
  • The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
  • Wyoming County Community Action Inc.
  • The American Red Cross.
  • National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas crews.
  • The National Weather Service in Buffalo.

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