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Storm slams Addison lakefront, flips house with woman inside it

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Posted on May 22, 2017 |
By Andy Kirkaldy



n Storm slams LEAD wind1499.jpg
HIGH WINDS LEFT this Addison home in splinters last Thursday evening. The winds, along with hail, caused extensive damage in the area. Independent photos/Trent Campbell

ADDISON — Scattered thunderstorms and high winds struck the northern half of Addison County on Thursday evening, causing some damage to property and trees.

Nowhere were their effects felt like they were in the Addison lakeside neighborhood of Potash Bay, where winds blew a home off its foundation, lifted a pickup truck over a barn, ripped roofing and siding off another estimated 10 homes, and tore down power and phone lines.

And hail of at least a half-inch in diameter dented vehicles and broke their windows and that of homes, according to Addison Fire Chief Chris Mulliss, who said the storm started battering the Potash Bay area just after 6 p.m. on Thursday.

“We got quite a storm,” said Mulliss, who on Friday morning at 9 a.m. was at Potash Bay assessing the damage.

The home was a wood-framed camp right on the shore of Lake Champlain. Wind flipped it over, trapping the owner, 75-year-old Linda Taft, under ceiling materials. Mulliss said rescue personnel took the woman to Porter Hospital to be treated for injuries, and that by Friday morning she had been released. A family member said Taft was recovering from cuts and bruises.

He was thankful Taft was OK given the storm’s impact on the home.

“It lifted the building right off the foundation and rolled it over,” Mulliss said.

The force of the storm was such that it moved one pickup over a barn, and, Mulliss said, one that was 45 feet tall.

“It went up and over it,” he said, noting a second pickup got pushed around a yard.

Asked if possibly a tornado was involved, Mulliss said he believed it was possible, but he had nothing to confirm it. The National Weather Service (NWS) had not reported a tornado as of Friday morning.

Thursday saw unseasonably hot weather, with temps hitting 90 degrees or higher during the afternoon, but dropping 20 degrees after the storm moved through, according to the NWS.

A thunderstorm warning and resulting violent weather prompted, among other things, suspension of baseball and softball games at Mount Abraham Union High School in Bristol, which also reportedly saw hail.

On Friday morning, Mulliss said there were still small chunks of hail that had not melted yet, and he speculated some of the hail from the night before might have been as large as three-quarters of an inch in diameter.

“That’s why there was so much damage,” he said.

One nearby stretch of Lake Street remained closed early Friday morning. Mulliss said Green Mountain Power had reattached downed power lines, but some phone lines remained on the ground. Seven Potash Bay homes’ power lines blew off during the storm, and GMP was working on Friday morning to restore their power.

In all, Mulliss said 45 or 50 firefighters from Addison, Vergennes and New Haven responded, as well as personnel from both Town Line First Response and the Vergennes Area Rescue Squad. The Addison Fire Department was toned out at 6:15 p.m., he said, and most firefighters were on the scene for about six hours.

According to WCAX-TV, storms around northern Vermont on Tuesday night knocked out power to almost 15,000 homes, mostly in Chittenden County.

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