Tornado recovery: Mundy Street to reopen soon

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
Wilkes-Barre Township Police Chief Ron Smith talks to the press about updates regarding the tornado that swept through Mundy Street in Wilkes-Barre Township. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Mundy Street is scheduled to reopen to traffic this afternoon, township Police Chief Ron Smith said.

The news came as construction crews continue cleaning up tornado debris at shopping centers including Arena Hub Plaza and neighboring properties.

The road may soon reopen, but those properties remain closed — with some facing the wrecking ball due to the extent of damage from Wednesday night’s tornado.

Eight buildings have been condemned and 14 are listed as unsafe, officials said this morning.

Smith said he could not yet put a dollar amount on the damage caused by the store, but said he expects it to exceed the $18 million threshold required to seek federal funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Also, Smith said Mundy Street will reopen to the public sometime today, but it wasn’t clear at what time.

Condemned properties

According to police, the condemned buildings housed the following businesses:

Panera Bread , Tovan & Co., America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, LA Nails, Sneaker King, U-Haul main building, Famous Footwear, Kurlancheek Furniture

Temporarily unsafe properties

Businesses in the unsafe buildings are: TJ Maxx, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Barnes & Noble, Carter’s/OshKosh B’gosh, Staples, PetSmart, 100 Commerce Boulevard, Polish Pottery, TGL Engineering, Music-Go-Round, Ashley Furniture, U-Haul Storage, Stations Grill, Sprint Cellular

3 trespassers arrested

Chief Smith said three individuals were arrested Thursday night and charged with trespassing.

“We did arrest three individuals, and they have been charged and will be prosecuted,” Smith said. “We will increase patrols on the site tonight, and I urge everyone to stay away. Anyone trespassing will be arrested, charged and prosecuted. We are not messing around with this. We have a lot of unsafe conditions, and we need people to stay away to allow the business owners and contractors to do their jobs.”

Smith discounted several rumors that have been circulated about merchandise from some of the stores. He said none of the rumors are true.

“All of the weapons from Dick’s Sporting Goods have been accounted for,” Smith said. “And the diamonds from Tovan & Co. were also secured. So don’t expect to find any diamonds in any of the parking lots up here.”

Smith said power has been restored in the area and he was waiting to hear when gas service would also be restored to allow businesses untouched by the tornado to reopen. The Wyoming Valley Mall reopened Friday at 10 a.m.

Alana Roberts, regional affairs director for PPL, said all businesses seeking to reopen must first undergo an inspection before being re-energized. She said the mall power was restored at 11:30 p.m. Thursday night and power feeding the rest of the area was re-booted at 4:30 a.m. Friday.

Disappointment, shock

Smith said he has been with some of the business owners when they were allowed to return to assess the damage at their stores. He said he could see the disappointment and shock on their faces.

“Some of these businesses have been here for a long time,” Smith said. “And it will be a long time before they can reopen. To see the devastation, I can only say I feel sorry for all of them.”

Smith said he has seen the business community coming together to help one another in the wake of the storm.

“I can say without a doubt that there are a lot of caring individuals out there,” Smith said.

Wilkes-Barre Township Police Chief Ron Smith talks to the press about updates regarding the tornado that swept through Mundy Street in Wilkes-Barre Township.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL061618TornadoFolo1-2.jpgWilkes-Barre Township Police Chief Ron Smith talks to the press about updates regarding the tornado that swept through Mundy Street in Wilkes-Barre Township. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.