Cars and small SUVs in the lot of the Faulkner dealership in Bensalem Township were tossed around like childrens’ playthings in Thursday evening’s tornado that struck the area.
The damage was evident at the dealership on Street Road, at properties along Old Lincoln Highway, and at the shopping centers on either side of Route 1.
The tornado struck around 7 p.m. as remaining customers and staff were in the dealership’s buildings and shoppers were at the nearby Lowe’s Home Improvement and Target.
Ernesto Saurez, who returned to the shopping center with the Lowe’s and Walmart early Friday, said he was heading to the home improvement store when the storm struck the prior evening.
“I was coming down the road, and I saw trash and leaves in the air. It looked like a huge leaf blower was on. I decided, because I was driving my van, just to pull over,” he said. “I missed getting hit by the tornado, but saw the firemen going there after.”
Sitting in his van looking at the damage, Saurez said he’s never seen anything like it in the area.
A manager at the Faulkner dealership said the Mazda building he worked in was badly damage. He said employees ran to the bathrooms and electrical closet to get shelter once they realized a tornado was barreling toward them.
The manager pointed to the blown out windows and damage to the walls. He noted a white sedan was flipped and thrown several dozen feet away.
TV crews from Philadelphia and New York City focused on the collapsed dealership service building Friday after daybreak.
Damage was reported at the Penn Valley Terrace mobile home complex behind the dealership. Aside from damage to the mobile homes, fences were blown apart as the tornado moved on its way.
Fred Harran, the township’s public safety director, said four people were injured at the dealership and one at a nearby building. He said the injuries were non-life-threatening.
Dave Skutnik, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania, said the organization sent disaster responders in Bensalem Township. A temporary center was established late Thursday night at the Neshaminy Mall.
Based on a reporter’s travels on the area, it appeared the damage was confined to a relatively small area.
Bensalem Township and county officials were assessing the impacts on Friday morning.
Aside from the tornado that hit Bensalem Township, there was one that traveled across the New Hope area in Central Bucks County.
The National Weather Service said they would be investigating the damage to determine the strength of the tornadoes in Bucks County and other parts of the region.
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