WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — A strong storm slammed some areas of Pennsylvania, damaging numerous businesses, many in a shopping plaza, overturning cars and downing trees and power lines.
CBS Scranton affiliate WYOU-TV says the scene in the Wilkes-Barre business district resembled “a war zone,” adding that debris littered the area.
The station quoted witnesses as saying it was the worst such hit ever for the business district and that if it had swept through during business hours, things could have been much worse.
Six minor injuries were reported, says WYOU.
CBS Harrisburg affiliate WHP-TV said there were reports of people trapped in vehicles.
The storm struck the Wilkes-Barre Township shopping plaza late Wednesday night. The area was under a tornado warning at the time.
The National Weather Service said it would be in the township Thursday to survey the damage and determine whether it was a tornado that touched down.
Teams will also be in Bradford County checking out the damage there, says WYOU.
Emergency crews from across the region raced to the township, the station reports, adding that the American Red Cross was on-scene assisting first responders and others.
Township police wrote on their Facebook page that there were reports of “multiple collapsed buildings.” They asked drivers to avoid the area to allow emergency personnel access to the shopping plaza.
Photos posted on social media show shattered storefronts and major damage to businesses including a Panera Bread restaurant, a Barnes & Noble bookstore and a Dick’s Sporting Goods. Debris lay scattered in parking lots and on streets and sidewalks.
Bruno Isles, a Panera employee, told the (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader he was washing dishes in the back of the restaurant at the time.
“My manager had us secure the doors,” he said. “We had tables and chairs flying through the windows.”
Isles said he suffered a minor scrape on his arm while he helped to get other people in the restaurant to safety.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania, took to Twitter and urged people in the path of the storm to stay safe and “please heed the warnings and follow the directions of local officials.”
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