A confirmed ‘microburst’ struck Md. neighborhood

BLADENSBURG, Md. – As many as 80 residents in Prince George’s County, whose homes were damaged in Friday night’s storm, have been forced into shelter at Bladensburg High School.

“Some are there because of loss of power, and are just waiting for restoration of power. Others will be more long term,” says Ronnie Gill, director of Emergency Management for Prince George’s County.

Gill says the aftermath of Friday’s storms, which slammed into Bladensburg and Cheverly Friday night, resembles a war zone.

“It looks like a bomb hit a three-block radius,” he says.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that the storm was a microburst, a storm characterized by violent winds that can leave tremendous damage.

As a result of the storms, 21 apartment buildings and condos have been declared uninhabitable, forcing residents to look for shelter elsewhere. The damage includes roofs that were ripped off of buildings, partial wall collapses and vehicle damage from fallen debris.

Gill is asking people to make sure to report any damage to his office because the county may seek federal funds. He says it’s not clear how long families may be displaced. Some may need long-term housing.

Shower facilities, food, and transportation are some of the services being offered to residents.

Many families in the shelter are waiting for their power to return. Pepco says it may not be until Monday when power is fully restored to customers. Others will remain there while damage to their homes is assessed, and repairs are done.

Gill says the shelter is prepared to stay open as long as it’s needed.

“Today, CERT (community emergency response team) volunteers for the department were going door-to-door in the Bladensburg neighborhood handing out flyers notifying residents the shelter was available,” Gill says.

The fire department says 15 multi-family homes, one single-family home, and Newton Street between 52nd and 55th streets in Bladensburg were severely damaged. The department responded to over 235 calls in a four hour period during, and after the storm. A normal call volume for 24 hours is 365.

The American Red Cross is aiding the county’s Office of Emergency Management with providing services in the shelter.

To help those families, the finance office of the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services will accept donations at:

805 Brightseat Road
Landover, MD 20785

People are asked to make checks or money orders payable to Prince George’s County Department of Social Services and to note in the memo section “Bladensburg Microburst Lay Fund.”

The shelter at Bladensburg High School will remain open Monday night. Any residents needing assistance can call the Emergency Operations Hotline at 301-583- 2230. Staffers at that number are also taking reports of storm damage.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan and Thomas Warren contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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