WINCHESTER — Fifty-five people and multiple pets were evacuated from townhouses on East Street after a strong thunderstorm Saturday evening resulted in a metal roof being blown off the properties and landing on vehicles parked behind the homes.
At 6:23 p.m. Saturday, an East Street resident flagged down a utility unit from the city’s Friendship Fire Company to report that people were trapped in a vehicle as a result of the airborne roof. When firefighters arrived, they found the roof of 200-220 East St. wrapped around several vehicles, with four residents trapped inside a van, a city news release stated.
Firefighters were able to extricate the people from the van, according to the release. No injuries were reported.
Due to extensive water damage to the properties, units 200-220 were declared unsafe for habitation by the city’s building official on Saturday.
Winchester’s Emergency Management team assessed the need to provide shelter to the displaced occupants, but no sheltering assistance was needed from the city or the American Red Cross, the release stated.
As of Monday, the structure had been temporarily covered, and the property owners were in the process of obtaining permits to replace the roof and repair interior damage, the release stated.
City spokesperson Amy Simmons said the affected properties sustained water damage and drywall damage on the first and second floors. “Inspections staff are working with the property owners to evaluate whether or not the five undamaged units can be safely re-occupied,” she wrote in an email.
The units, built in 1930, are owned by Winchester-based Valley Mortgage Corporation, according to online city records. The property has a total assessed value of $852,000 and is listed as having 12 dwelling units.
Saturday’s storm also resulted in downed tree limbs, power outages and flooding in some areas.
A National Weather Service meteorologist said the storm produced straight line winds. A severe storm warning issued just before the storm hit Winchester warned of wind gusts up to 60 mph. The NWS was unable to provide information on exact wind speeds at the time of the storm, however.