Franklin cleans up after powerful storm leaves widespread damage

Local News

FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — A short but powerful storm left widespread damage across Franklin on Tuesday evening.

City officials said a few homes had significant structural damage, and an undetermined number of power customers were left in the dark. Downed tree limbs littered many city streets.

A tree service used a crane to lift a huge oak branch off of a house on W. 4th St. It’s one of three that sustained significant damage across the city.

None of the four residents were hurt, but the landlord is hoping to be able to rebuild.

“We will get it fixed,” said owner Sparky Lerner. “We will put a roof on it, fix the drywall that’s busted inside. We will bring it back.”

Capt. Tim Dunn with the Franklin Fire Department said most of the damage is along Clay Street. A bunch of trees and power lines are down in areas including W. 4th Avenue and Charles, Gardner, Gay and High streets.

“It looked like someone had just taken every tree and shook it,” Dunn said. “It was limbs and leaves just scattered all over the road and all over the yards here.”

Dunn said there have been no reports of injuries to residents.

The Red Cross stated on Twitter it is helping 13 people displaced from four homes impacted by downed trees in Franklin.

We’re told more than 1,500 people initially lost power Tuesday. 

NWS said a downburst likely caused wind damage. Several power poles in front of the Airway Shopping Center were no match against Mother Nature.

“We definitely wanted to open a shelter for anyone with any medical needs, need for electricity for certain medical devices or anything refrigeration for medication,” Dunn said.

Dunn said the number of folks still in the dark is now estimated to be around 500. 

“Those guys are working fingers to the bone try and get everything back on for us,” he said.

Jane Kay, a 30-year resident, says this storm posed more danger than most.

“The wind changed direction in an odd kind of way. I was looking out the front, and I was about to tell my husband that maybe we should look to move to the center of the house.”

Around the corner on High Street, a magnolia tree fell down in the back yard across a fence.

“I used to climb that tree when I was little,” said Joe Ferki. He’s now the landlord, and the neighbor’s car took the worst of it. “I’m glad nobody got hurt. I’m going to miss the tree.”

About 40 members of the baseball team from Paul D. Camp Community College pitched in on the cleanup effort on Clay Street, helping to gather up down tree limbs and debris.

Franklin is also getting help from the cities of Danville and Martinsville with restoring power. City Hall in Franklin will be closed again Thursday because of the outage, but city offices that don’t operate in City Hall will have normal business hours.

The city and the Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at Franklin High School. The shelter will remain open for anyone until 7 p.m. Thursday, when power is expected to be fully restored. 

Officials are also warning residents to be mindful of who you hire to remove trees. They say to check and make sure the contractor is licensed to do the work.

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