Although the rain was not coming down quite as hard as it had on July 4, according to Bob Powell of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, it was still “raining cats and dogs” on Tuesday afternoon, and the thunder and lightning of the sudden storm caused the fire company to shut their engine bays for a time to keep everyone safe.
In the span of an hour and a half, the MVFC responded to five calls, which Powell said is “absolutely” out of the ordinary and “very, very rare.”
At 2:45 p.m., they were called by the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center to do a medical assist for someone with chest pains. When they returned to the station from that call, the storm hit.
Powell said that, at 3:31 p.m., they responded to an accident on Jones Road, involving a UPS truck and a pickup truck, from which both drivers were transported to area hospitals. They worked through downpours and the thunder and lightning while extracting one of the drivers out of their vehicle.
At 3:33 p.m., there was an automatic alarm at an area business, and at 3:53p.m., there were reports of wires down and sparks on Irons Lane in Clarksville.
Finally, at 4:22 p.m., they responded to a structure fire on Railway Road. Powell said they hadn’t concluded that the fire was a result of the storm, saying only that it was being investigated by the fire marshal’s office.
“Five things in a span of an hour and a half,” said Powell, “Yeah, it was pretty wild.”
The storm also included mothball-sized hail and heavy wind, resulting in broken branches and lightweight items being tossed around yards, as well as localized flooding from the downpour. There was also some equipment damage due to lightning strikes, tree limbs and trees down on wires, affecting some Delmarva Power customers.
Company spokesman Matt Likovich said that between 3:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, 101 customers in Millsboro were without power; from 3:46 p.m. to 7 p.m., 49 customers in Selbyville were affected; and another 94 Selbyville customers were without power from 4:11 p.m. to 6 p.m. Scattered outages were also recorded in Millsboro, Clarksville and Ocean View between 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., and a few Millsboro customers were affected overnight, between 10:14 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Larger numbers of power customers were affected in Kent County, in the Felton, Viola, Frederica and Greenwood areas, as a result of the storm.
According to the American Red Cross, people should take precautions during a thunderstorm watch or warning, ahead of the arrival of the storm.
• Use a NOAA Weather Radio or listen to a local station on a battery-powered radio or television for updated emergency information. If the power goes out, you still will have access to important information.
• Draw the blinds and shades over windows. If windows break because objects are blown by the wind or large hail, the shades will help prevent glass from shattering into your home.
• Unplug appliances and avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. If lightning strikes, telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.
• Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose. Metal pipes and plumbing can conduct electricity if struck by lightning.
• Turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.
• Maintain direct control of your animals. Many animals are unsettled by thunderstorms, and it is more comforting and safe for them to be with you.
For those that are driving, there are several tips:
• Pull safely onto the shoulder of the road and stop, making sure you are away from any trees or other tall objects that could fall on the vehicle.
• Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain subsides. Heavy rain produced by thunderstorms can greatly reduce visibility. Emergency flashers will alert other drivers that you have stopped. Keep the windows closed. Stay in the car. You are safer from lightning in a vehicle than out in the open.
• Avoid contact with metal or other conducting surfaces outside or inside the vehicle. Lightning that strikes nearby can travel through wet ground to your vehicle. The steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Rubber tires provide no protection from lightning. Avoid contact with potential conductors to reduce your chance of being shocked. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your vehicle, you are much safer inside than outside.
• Avoid flooded roads. Many flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water or people playing in high water.
The National Weather Service has forecast isolated thunderstorms for Saturday, July 23, through Monday, July 25. That is in addition to an excessive-heat watch in place through Friday evening, with heat indices near 105 degrees Thursday afternoon and near 110 degrees on Friday afternoon, though temperatures may be lower near the coast. The excessive heat could continue into Saturday.
Both storms and excessive heat can cause power outages. For more information on understanding and preparing for outages, visit, delmarva.com or http://www.delmarva.com/home/emergency/prepare/. For more summer weather safety tips during a heat wave, visit redcross.org. For more information on the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, visit millville84.com.