FRANKLIN COUNTY — Saturday dawned bright and brisk, only slightly cloudy and generally a beautiful day.
But it was cleanup time for many across the county in the wake of Friday’s sometimes violent thunderstorms, high winds and heavy rains.
Lincoln Way (US 30) between Apple Way and Geibs Road remained closed most of the day as utility crews replaced six poles that were ripped out of the ground along Lincoln Way as the storm swept through St. Thomas Township at about 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Reportedly a tornado might have touched down in the area, but officials were waiting for National Weather Service investigators Saturday morning to verify it.
Several videos showing funnel clouds popped up on social media around the time that first call came into St. Thomas Fire and Rescue.
Emergency responders rushed to the scene, where they found the poles lying on the ground and live wires dangling.
They also found heavy damage at the C&R Produce stand, including a damaged propane tank, and several nearby buildings flattened.
St. Thomas Fire Chief Tom Bigler was on the scene and quickly called for additional resources as his volunteers began working to make the scene as safe as possible for emergency personnel and the public.
The damage extended up Apple Way Road where a tree was blown down and into a house, as well as power poles down in two or three locations.
Bigler’s firefighters had to hike about 2,000 feet through a field carrying equipment — in full gear plus oxygen tanks and masks — to avoid the downed power lines.
Once they reached the produce stand, they found — as they already suspected — propane leaking from the damaged tank.
Firefighters and fire police were on the scene all night, finally leaving Saturday after county crews put up barriers and detours for traffic around the area where utility crews were working to replace the damaged poles.
Elsewhere in the county, there was massive flooding in the Fayetteville and Scotland areas as creeks overflowed their banks and roads were underwater.
Creeks were still over their banks in many places but water was receding from most roadways by mid-morning Saturday.
In addition to the Lincoln Way and Apple Way Road areas, power was out in several other places well into the day Saturday.
West Penn Power reported outages at Shade Gap, along Lincoln and on Apple Way, where power had not yet been restored at 5 p.m.
Many residents around the county coped with lesser damages, cleaning up downed branches in their yards and searching their neighborhoods for trash containers and lawn and patio furniture that had been blown away or damaged by the storm.