Weather officials headed to Wilkes-Barre Twp. to make tornado determination

By Dan Stokes - [email protected]
- Dan Stokes | Times Leader
U-haul trucks were lifted on top of each other. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader - Dan Stokes | Times Leader
Power lines and concrete lies in the parking lot of La-Z-Boy furniture. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader - Dan Stokes | Times Leader
The Panera store in Wilkes-Barre Township was one of several buildings seriously damaged Wednesday night. - - Dan Stokes | Times Leader
The Kurlancheek Home Furnishings store on Mundy Street was badly damaged in the storm Wednesday evening. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader - - Dan Stokes | Times Leader
Aimee Dilger | Times Leader - - Dan Stokes | Times Leader
A small car lies in the road on its roof on Mundy Street in front of Ken Pollack Nissan. Aimee Dilger|Times Leader - - Dan Stokes | Times Leader
Aimee Dilger | Times Leader - - Dan Stokes | Times Leader
Several buildings in Wilkes-Barre Township were seriously damaged Wednesday night as a storm ripped through the region. - - Dan Stokes | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — National Weather Service officials are headed to the area to survey damage from Wednesday night’s storm, which tore apart buildings in and around the Arena Hub Plaza and trapped terrified workers.

The NWS will determine if the storm that caused so much damage so quickly was, indeed, a tornado. They will base that decision off study of the debris pattern and other factors.

Workers from the NWS office in Binghamton, New York, are expected to be in the area from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the agency says.

They are expected to release a statement by late Thursday afternoon.

It was not clear whether any serious injuries were reported by 1:30 a.m. Thursday, about three-and-a-half hours after the storm struck at 10 p.m.

However, Red Cross regional spokesman Dave Skutnik tweeted early Thursday that he was only hearing about a “few minor injuries so far.”

Skutnik said local Red Cross crews were staged on Mundy Street “to support first responders as they sweep damaged buildings.”

Here is what we do know:

• Wilkes-Barre Township police reported multiple damaged buildings in the area of Mundy Street. Drivers were asked to avoid the Wyoming Valley Mall and surrounding area. Only emergency personnel would be allowed access.

• More than 7,200 PPL Electric customers were without power at midnight.

• Seriously damaged properties included Panera Bread and an adjacent strip mall, Smokey Bones restaurant, Ken Pollack Nissan and the U-Haul store.

• Ashley Furniture and Barnes & Noble appeared to have suffered extensive structural damage.

• There also were unconfirmed reports of looting in some stores, as well as a strong odor of gas in the area of Barnes & Noble.

Bruno Isles, a worker at Panera, described the horror as the storm bore down.

“I was washing dishes in the back, my manager had us secure the doors,” Isles said. “We had tables and chairs flying through the windows.”

Isles suffered a minor scrape on his arm in the process of shepherding others to safety.

He said women were stuck in a walk-in fridge when “water started to set in.”

Isles and another man helped them escape.

“I helped another man over the counter,” Isles said. “We just waited for the police and fire to come.”

The incident drew emergency crews from around Luzerne County, including police, fire and ambulance.

Check timesleader.com and @tlnews on Twitter for more throughout the day.

https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_IMG_0232-7.jpgDan Stokes | Times Leader

U-haul trucks were lifted on top of each other. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL061418tornado1-6.jpgU-haul trucks were lifted on top of each other. Aimee Dilger | Times LeaderDan Stokes | Times Leader

Power lines and concrete lies in the parking lot of La-Z-Boy furniture. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL061418tornado2-6.jpgPower lines and concrete lies in the parking lot of La-Z-Boy furniture. Aimee Dilger | Times LeaderDan Stokes | Times Leader

The Panera store in Wilkes-Barre Township was one of several buildings seriously damaged Wednesday night.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_IMG_0229-8.jpgThe Panera store in Wilkes-Barre Township was one of several buildings seriously damaged Wednesday night. Dan Stokes | Times Leader

The Kurlancheek Home Furnishings store on Mundy Street was badly damaged in the storm Wednesday evening. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL061418tornado3-6.jpgThe Kurlancheek Home Furnishings store on Mundy Street was badly damaged in the storm Wednesday evening. Aimee Dilger | Times LeaderDan Stokes | Times Leader

Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL061418tornado4-6.jpg Aimee Dilger | Times LeaderDan Stokes | Times Leader

A small car lies in the road on its roof on Mundy Street in front of Ken Pollack Nissan. Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL061418tornado6-4.jpgA small car lies in the road on its roof on Mundy Street in front of Ken Pollack Nissan. Aimee Dilger|Times LeaderDan Stokes | Times Leader

Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL061418tornado5-6.jpg Aimee Dilger | Times LeaderDan Stokes | Times Leader

Several buildings in Wilkes-Barre Township were seriously damaged Wednesday night as a storm ripped through the region.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_IMG_0231-1-1-7.jpgSeveral buildings in Wilkes-Barre Township were seriously damaged Wednesday night as a storm ripped through the region. Dan Stokes | Times Leader

By Dan Stokes

[email protected]