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'Sounded Like A Freight Train': Washington County Residents Say Storm Lasted Just Minutes, But Cleanup Will Go On For Days

By: KDKA's Briana Smith and Ross Guidotti

PETERS TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) -- One of the places hardest hit by the severe weather on Thursday night was Peters Township, Washington County. A tornado was confirmed, and the National Weather Service will be out there on Saturday to survey the damage.

In the meantime, Peters Township residents are left with toppled trees, ruined roofs and wrecked wires.

"We came out and saw all this destruction," said Beverly Allridge. "It looks a mess."

Allridge and Ben Costello live near Hill Place Road. They were watching television when the storm rolled through after 8 p.m.

"It sounded like a freight train and our front door started shaking," said Costello. "I pushed myself on the front door to keep it from blowing in and it didn't last long."

Costello says the storm lasted minutes, but the cleanup will linger for days.

"We lost about 14 trees," he said. "Didn't get too much damage to the house, maybe two or three shingles."

"We didn't lose any windows, but we lost about five big trees that have to come out," said Allridge. "Of course, the neighbor's trees came across and brought down the wires and poles."

Peters Township is just one area where the NWS is surveying damage on Saturday. They'll also head to Hopewell Township in Washington County and Franklin Township, Beaver County and Lancaster Township, Butler County.

"I was nervous, but I'm thanking God that the house is standing and it can be cleaned up," said Allridge. "No one was hurt, so that's the good news."

Despite the damage, neighbors say they're in good spirits, and they're prepared to roll up their sleeves.

"I'm yard guy, so I'm always cleaning up," said Costello. "So, it's going to be like cleaning up on steroids."

Across Washington County, there was also significant damage in the community of Hickory. The storms ripped through Hickory and Mt. Pleasant Township, nothing spared in their paths.

"I've never been so scared in my life. That was the scariest thing I've ever been through," said Shiela Hackinson.

Looking at the damage, it's understandable. A huge barn that stood for ages was wiped out along Willow Road, a massive debris field spread far and wide. A few bails of soaked hay defied the winds and stayed put.

Hackinson's home and barn were in the storm's bullseye. Her home was spared, but her barn full of goats was not.

"We come out and we started surveying the damage, and we came down here and our whole barn -- you can see the tin on the side was gone," she said.

Literally 100 yards away, her cousin Debbie Ullom lost a garage and heavily damaged her home.

"Well, I was actually asleep and my friend called and said, 'there is a tornado coming.' As soon as she said that, my front window blew out and the house started shaking like an earthquake, then I went to the floor," said Ullom.

She says the ringing phone may have been the difference between life and death, but her house is likely a total loss.

She also says if there's a tornado warning where you live, pay attention.

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