As severe storms last night affected much of Northeast Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf and officials at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) provided an update on the storm damage caused by a possible tornado and next steps in the region.
“Our first concern is the safety of residents and structures and local emergency responders have worked through the night to secure the scene,” Governor Wolf said. “I (was) on site in Wilkes-Barre Township this afternoon to tour the damage at the shopping plazas as the National Weather Service (NWS) and PEMA work with local emergency management to determine if this severe storm was a tornado.”
Governor Wolf visited the shopping centers at 3570 Wilkes Barre Blvd, Wilkes Barre Township, to examine damage there and meet with PEMA Director Rick Flinn and local emergency management and first responders.
A half-mile radius around the damage site has been evacuated due to a leaking 750-pound propane tank. PennDOT has been actively engaged in ensuring roads surrounding the damage site are closed and properly signed to provide safety for residents and first responders. Officials are using extreme caution to ensure the area is safe before residents are permitted to return.
There are approximately 15 businesses damaged with some partial structural collapse. PEMA is coordinating with the county emergency management agency and the Civil Air Patrol to provide the NWS with aerial reconnaissance information for the assessment. Damage assessments are on-going to determine the extent of the impact.