A tornado that touched down in Lancaster County on Friday night caused more damage than initially thought.
Lancaster County's Emergency Management Agency said Monday that the 16-mile path of destruction that began in Paradise Township reached into East Earl Township and is expected to cost five-to-seven million dollars, up from initial estimates of three-to-five million dollars.
Also Monday, the storm cleanup continued in Paradise Park, where the sudden storm caused a pavilion to collapse onto a group of people who took refuge from the heavy rain and lightning during a charity softball game.
"They said a gust of wind just came along suddenly, unexpectedly, and collapsed the roof on top of the people," said Randall Gockley, Director of the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency.
"Fortunately, there were cars that were parked alongside of the pavilion, so when the roof collapsed, the weight was taken mostly by the hoods of the cars along the pavilion, so fortunately, the pavilion did not come down full weight on the people that were underneath," Gockley said.
Fifteen people were injured and 11 were sent to hospitals for injuries that included a broken leg, a broken rib, and a serious head cut, Gockley said. None of the injuries was life-threatening.
Gockley praised the job done by emergency responders.
"This was a challenging event, especially for the emergency responders," he said. "Because of trees and wires being down, they could only get within a quarter-mile of the pavilion. They had lost electricity in the park, so it was totally pitch black."
The National Weather Service in State College has said the tornado was an EF-1 on the enhanced Fujita scale, with an estimated maximum wind speed of 100-110 mph, and first touched down near Fern Glen.
"They found a 16-mile path of destruction that was no wider at any location than 200 yards, so it was a very narrow path as it moved through Lancaster County," Gockley said.
Gockley said the county was not under a severe thunderstorm watch or tornado watch until after the twister touched down, when the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning.
"What made this situation unusual is the fact that it was totally dark," he said. "Nobody reported seeing any funnel clouds or anything like that. There was no hail in advance of the storm. It was just a very unusual event."
The National Weather Service reported at least 50 structures were damaged and several barns were destroyed by the storm, which also downed an estimated 2,000-3,000 trees as well as two high-tension electrical towers in Buck.
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