Mercer Co. citizens begin cleanup efforts

MERCER CO., Pa. (WKBN) – Visible damage is evident in Lackawannock Township after an EF-1 tornado was confirmed to have touched down, but no injuries were reported.

Trees and power lines were ripped down and a roof on a barn blew away, but residents in the area said they are lucky it wasn’t worse.

Clayton and Ariel Yanak had just replaced a roof on their barn at N. Stone Base Road in Lackawannock Township but saw their hard work destroyed by the twister.

“We just finished putting a roof on our barn last Friday and it took half of it. A lot of destruction,” said Yanak. “It is just structural. Everything can be fixed but bodies can’t be replaced.”

The Claytons were at work when the storm blew through. They came home to find their road blocked off and when they finally made to their property, they spotted the damaged barn.

“My husband and I have put a lot of time into it and so seeing a lot of the hours, a lot of the work, a lot of the money that has gone into it just seeing it blow away in about five minutes was pretty devastating,” said Ariel Yanak. “That is what we got. We will deal with it and we will make it work and move on with it.”

With the help of family and friend’s they’ve been clearing the trees from N. Stone Base Road, making way for the power company.

“It was kind of overwhelming seeing that everybody came and it was nice to know that you have a lot of friends in the area,” said Geraldine Troug, Ariel Yanak’s sister.

Just a short walk away, Ken and Sandra Johnston are dealing with the storm’s aftermath. Sandra said the storm was loud and quick, taking about 30 seconds to blow through.

“We’re very fortunate because we had so much damage behind our house and in front of our house yet we have minimal damage to the house. It is from objects hitting the siding and broken windows” said Sandra Johnston.

Both the Yanaks and Johnstons say their insurance companies are heading out to assess their property damage before they begin making repairs.

The Better Business Bureau of Western Pa. is warning local residents affected by the recent storms to beware of storm chasers and out-of-town contractors looking for businesses.

“It is not uncommon for out-of-town and often unlicensed storm chasers to solicit business in an area hard hit by severe weather,” President of the Western Pa. Better Business Bureau Warren King said. “Storm chasers make a living going from town to town, offering quick service to those in need of home repairs and making promises to which they won’t deliver.”

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for those who need to hire professional cleanup help:

  • Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, including those for food, temporary housing, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.
  • Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if salespeople go door-to-door. Verify that they need to have a permit by contacting your local township or municipality. BBB suggests consumers be pro-active in selecting a contractor and not reactive to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches.
  • Do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full or half payment upfront.
  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.’
  • Solicit 3-4 quotes from contractors and verify the businesses are registered with the PA Attorney General’s office.
  • Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done, the amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor, and a time frame. Require a copy of their current certificate of insurance.
  • Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem.
  • Check that the contractor’s vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name, phone number and license plates for your state.
  • Be leery if a worker shows up on your doorstep to announce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer or building official inspect it.

The Ohio Department of Insurance has a consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 which people dealing with storm damage can call with any insurance-related questions, including about the claim filing process.

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