Last night's storm: Fatalities, robbery, and damages...

As flood waters rise, a wall collapses and a destructive storm turns deadly.  

Two men are found dead in a home on East 30th and Florida streets.  The two men who died in this tragic accident have been identified as 59-year-old Gary Hoffman and his Brother-in-Law, Mike McGurn.  We do not have a photo. of McGurn at this time. 

Now, the wall in the front of the home completely collapsed into the basement, leaving the entire basement exposed.  Officials say the two men were in the basement at the time, checking out a water leak.

Police confirm there were two fatalities, and a scuba team was called to the scene.  Authorities are now working to determine the cause of death of the two men.  Officials say water rose to remarkable levels in the streets, yards and up to homes at 504 East 30th Street.  

A call came in as a building collapse with people entrapped when crews arrived.  The entire neighborhood had a lot of stormwater that hadn't drained.  Crews pumped out a lot of water from the basement and four members from Water Rescue went in and found the two men.

Mike Balliett, Deputy Fire Chief of EFD tells us, "This is the first time I've come across something of this magnitude...  We were not only dealing with the flooded basement, the reported two people the basement ... the electric service to the house was still on. There was the possibility of there being a current going through the water in the basement on top of that and to further collapse..."

A neighbor, Marjorie Fioretti, was watching out of their living room window, watching the water rise.  Her husband told her the wall was caving in.  Marge tells us, "It was like a tidal wave. I can't even explain it other than like the perfect storm and the water just went into the basement and then the front of the house collapsed and the bricks fell."

The latest development in this story adds insult to injury for the family.  Family members drove out to the home early in the morning to retrieve two pet cats, apparently still inside.  Once it was light outside, they went into the home to find that it had been robbed overnight.  Electronics, guns, clothes... were amongst the items stolen from the home. 

Police were on scene all morning investigating the crime.  So, there are two ongoing investigations at this point, the two men's cause of death and the robbery.

In addition, we spoke with multiple neighbors last night and this morning who said Hoffman was always making calls trying to resolve the flooding issue.  One neighbor, who requested to remain anonymous, even said it was just ironic... he was always the one calling the city about the problem and he ended up losing his life over it. 

A hard-hit area was the neighborhood around West 35th Street and Greengarden Boulevard in the city.  Several blocks of Greengarden look like a war zone.  Multiple trees and power lines were brought down.  Fire crews were forced to block off the area due to the damage. 

And, the high winds brought destruction to many other areas in our region.  At West 26th Street and Sterrettania Road, power was knocked out during the storm and damage was reported at the K-Mart Plaza.  The wind blew in a door at K-Mart and shopping carts were blown over and strewn across the parking lot.  

In the 2800 block of Homer Avenue between Route 20 and Sterrettania, numerous large trees were downed with damage in the area stretching south to West 32nd Street. "We heard the wind picking up," says Robert Brady.  "It kept getting stronger and louder.  We heard some crashing noises.  We looked out the windows and we saw a tree down."

Kathy Weber tells us she was, "just watching everything out back from my back windows. The wind blowing trees from their yards going across our backyard." 

Millcreek Township Residents who need to report downed trees or other damage can call 814-833-1303.  To report outages in your area, you can call 888-LIGHTSS, that's 1-888-544-4877. 

Another hard hit area was the neighborhood around West 35th Street and Greengarden Boulevard in the city. Several blocks of Greengarden look like a war zone.  Multiple trees and power lines were brought down.  Fire crews were forced to block off the area due to the damage. 

And, a house near Andover is damaged after high winds brought a tree down onto its roof.  It happened on Route 322, near Route 7.  Crews removed the tree quickly and only minor injuries were reported.  The tree brought down power lines, prompting the closure of Route 322.  No word on when the road will be reopened.


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