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Superstorm Sandy: Worst impact misses area

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Town of Strasburg maintenance crews work to restore this section of Ash Street that was washed out during Monday night's rains. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Mike Hepner, left, electricial technician for Shenandoah Valley Electric, left, and Freddie Miller, right, transportation operator for the Virginia Department of Transportation, stand beside this fallen tree along Cedar Creek at the Warren and Shenandoah County line. The tree fell across utility lines Tuesday morning. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Chris Ambrose, a tree trimmer for Asplundh Tree Expert Company, saws a limb on this tree that crashed onto utility lines at the Warren and Shenandoah County line along Cedar Creek on Tuesday morning. Rich Cooley/Daily

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State Police block the southbound lane of Old Valley Pike on Tuesday morning at the Warren and Shenandoah County line near Strasburg. The tree, which was located along the banks of Cedar Creek, fell onto utility lines. Rich Cooley/Daily


By Joe Beck

It could have been worse.

The Northern Shenandoah Valley escaped superstorm Sandy's most devastating effects as it roared over the area Monday.

A Warren County family of four forced to evacuate their home as it filled with poisonous carbon monoxide gas was the only injury reported by police, fire and rescue officials Tuesday

Emergency service agencies in other communities reported a number of fallen trees that had to be cleared from streets, a few evacuations caused by flooding and wind damage to buildings.

Chief Richard E. Mabie of the Warren County Fire and Rescue Services said his department answered more than 50 calls during a 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning.

"We got off fairly light compared to what it might have been," Mabie said.

Mabie said most of the calls were related to downed trees and power lines and blown electrical transformers.

Shenandoah County Fire Chief Gary Yew reported four water rescues by his department, most of them from vehicles stranded in high water. The department also answered 55 calls for debris in the roadway, 25 for downed power lines and 40 for flooded basements.

The county still had 25 roads closed due to high water as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, he said.

"It actually went better than we expected," Yew said of the storm's passing.

He said the department still had damage assessments teams working to determine the extent of damage to residential and farm property.

Chester Lauck, Frederick County's deputy emergency management coordinator, said the county's deputies and fire and rescue personnel were busy with downed trees and power lines "just about all night.''

Lauck said power lines and poles were hit hard and urged the public to be patient while repairs are made.

"It's going to take a lot of time to get it fixed," he said.

Fire and rescue crews in Warren County received a call at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday about a home at 155 Creek Road near Lake Front Royal filled with carbon monoxide. Fire Marshal Lt. Gerry Maiatico said the occupants, a father, mother and two daughters, evacuated the home on their own earlier when they awoke feeling ill from the effects of carbon monoxide. They went to Warren Memorial Hospital on their own for treatment, he said.

Maiatico said the carbon monoxide came from a generator that had been placed in the garage around 10 p.m. and left running with the garage door cracked open.

"They thought they had enough ventilation and unfortunately they didn't," Maiatico said of the family.

He listed the four victims as a woman, 50, a man, 49, and their two girls, 7 and 9. He said all were listed in stable condition at the hospital.

Flooding forced the evacuation of two trailer parks in Shenandoah County and left some of their residents taking refuge in a shelter established at Peter Muhlenbeerg Middle School in Woodstock.

Yew said National Guard soldiers and their heavy duty trucks helped his department evacuate 11 people from a trailer park on Wood Park Lane in Woodstock and another 12 from a trailer park on Massanutten Street in Strasburg.

Shenandoah Assistant County Administrator Mary Beth Price said all of the Ash Street residents were back in their homes as of Tuesday afternoon. She said nine from Wood Park Lane remained in the shelter and that plans were being made with the Red Cross to find other lodging for them on Tuesday night if necessary.

Lauren Cummings, a spokeswoman with the Winchester Police Department, said a house roof collapsed on a second floor bedroom at 5 a.m. Tuesday in the 300 block of Virginia Avenue in what was the most serious reported property damage in the city. The department also handled reports of downed wires, flooded basements and electrical wires sparking, she said.

Lauck said many Frederick County government offices had been without telephone service since Monday evening, but that emergency dispatch and 911 services remained intact. Lauck said crews were still working to restore phone service to other government offices late Tuesday.

"We're susceptible to damage just like everyone else," he said.

Yew said a tanker truck filled with milk went off the road in the area of Middle Road, Turkey Run stream and Marlboro Road.

He said no one was injured but leaking milk from the tanker posed a threat to the nearby stream. Crews were working through the day to clean up the site, he said.

"People don't realize how large volumes of milk getting into a stream can be a problem," he said.

Sgt. F.L. (Les) Tyler of the Virginia State Police said the truck left the road while trying to pass through high water around 1:15 a.m. Tuesday. He said the driver was charged but had no further details on the specific offense or the driver's identity.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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