It’s been a July to forget in Lower Bucks County, with a violent tornado striking just two weeks after a devastating flash flood.
The tornado struck Bensalem Township just after 7 p.m. Thursday, July 29, crossing six lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the tail end of rush hour before moving on to destroy several commercial buildings, causing several injuries. Fortunately, everyone is expected to be okay.
The tornado then continued tearing a path through a residential area, including at least two mobile home parks where several homes were destroyed. Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt.
The Red Cross was on the ground within minutes after the storm, first opening a temporary evacuation center at Neshaminy Mall and then an overnight shelter at Neshaminy High School. There, residents had a safe, dry place to stay as well as the ability to charge devices, and grab snacks and water.
One resident from Penn Valley Terrace who came by the shelter Friday described her family’s harrowing experience. “The power went out, and it was pouring. Then, it got quiet, almost beautiful out. The next minute, we heard what sounded like a freight train and everything was flying in the air,” she described, noting how one corner of her trailer “lifted up” before slamming back down with a “big boom.”
“We can now see the turnpike,” she said. “There are no trees.”
According to the National Weather Service, this tornado was the strongest in Pennsylvania since 2004 and the strongest ever recorded in Bucks County. Records date back to 1950.
Red Cross teams were out assessing damage the day after the storm, working with our government partners and displaced residents to determine what kind of help is needed.
The tornado comes on the heels of a flooding event on July 12 that left hundreds of homes with water damage. The Red Cross spent the past two-plus weeks helping residents affected by that storm. It is work that will continue in the days and weeks ahead, providing much-needed comfort and hope to storm-weary residents.