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County News & Press Releases

Posted on: July 30, 2021

NWS Confirms Tornado Hit Bensalem, Commissioners Call for Climate Action

A woman and cars

An EF-3 tornado with peak winds of 140 mph ripped through Bensalem Township’s Trevose section just after 7 p.m. Thursday evening, the National Weather Service has confirmed.

The massive funnel cut a trail of devastation as it destroyed homes and businesses just north of the intersection of Street Road and Old Lincoln Highway. But despite dramatic scenes of extensive wreckage, just six injuries had been reported as of Friday, no lives had been lost and uninsured damages appeared minimal.

Around midday Friday, the Bucks County Commissioners visited Bensalem to survey the aftermath of extreme weather, joined once again by state legislators and local officials in their second such visit in less than three weeks.

a collapsed building

PHOTO: A building at the Faulkner Buick GMC dealership in Trevose is reduced to rubble Friday after a tornado tore through Bensalem Thursday evening.

"Such destruction is shocking when it is in your own county and not a midwestern state on TV,” said Diane Ellis-Marseglia, chair of the county commissioners. “The idea that such weather events are increasing is frightening, and should motivate all of us to take action to prevent further damage from climate change.”

Marseglia’s statements came after she and Commissioners Bob Harvie and Gene DiGirolamo visited the shattered remains of a Street Road car dealership. Marseglia and Harvie also toured a nearby mobile home park, where the tornado had damaged or flattened several residences.

Harvie remarked that the county was “blessed” to have been spared from death or serious injuries from the storms, which also brought damaging winds to rural areas further north. The National Weather Service as of 5:30 p.m. Friday had not yet issued a determination about whether a tornado had struck there as well.

two men pointing

PHOTO: Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie and state Sen. Robert M. "Tommy" Tomlinson on Friday survey damage from a tornado that ripped through the Faulkner Buick GMC dealership in Trevose on Thursday.

“I have lived in Bucks County my whole life and I know there are others, like me, who have never seen anything like what we witnessed in Bensalem,” Harvie said. “Storms like the ones we have experienced in just the past few weeks are clearly the result of climate change, and should serve as a wake-up call for those who insist there isn't enough evidence.”

The Bucks County Emergency Management Agency, assisted by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, determined the storm had destroyed two homes and damaged 22 others. Five businesses also were destroyed Thursday, and six others sustained damage.

Bucks County Emergency Services Director Audrey Kenny praised the efforts of first responders throughout the county, who she said responded to more than 1,600 calls for service during the busiest hours Thursday evening.

a damaged mobile home

PHOTO: A mobile home along Old Lincoln Highway in Trevose stands half flattened Friday after a tornado ripped through Bensalem Thursday evening.

“Our emergency responders performed exceptionally during last night’s storms, and we are so proud of the work of all of our 911 staff, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs,” she said. “They make a difference every day, and our county leaders applaud their bravery and dedication to our community.”

Among the challenging situations first responders faced, Kenny added, were collapsed buildings, people trapped in homes and a broken gas line.

Just hours before the storms entered the area, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved a request from Gov. Tom Wolf to make low-interest loans available to victims of July 12’s damaging floods in Bensalem, Bristol Borough and Bristol Township.

a man walking in front of a damaged building

PHOTO: A man walks Friday past a collapsed vehicle service building at the Faulkner Buick GMC dealership in Trevose.

Anyone in need of shelter after Thursday’s storms can contact the American Red Cross for assistance at 1-800-733-2767 (select option four).

Residents and business owners should report damage from Thursday’s storms to municipal officials.

Municipal officials should report damage to Bucks County Emergency Management by emailing [email protected] or calling 215-340-8700.

Media Contact: James O’Malley, 215-348-6414, [email protected]

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