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Employees, customers recount having seconds to shelter from tornado-warned storm

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 7/30/2021 Adriana Navarro

A potential tornado wreaked havoc in eastern Pennsylvania on Thursday, reportedly causing the partial collapse of a car dealership in the area.

Just after 7:10 p.m. EDT, a possible tornado struck near the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center. The town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, sits about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia.

The Bensalem Fire Rescue reported numerous trees and wires had been downed throughout the township. Fire crews were working across a number of locations, including at reported building collapses on Metropolitan Drive and at Faulkner Buick GMC. The Faulkner Volvo building had also sustained damage.

a group of people riding on the back of a truck © Provided by AccuWeather
First responders arrived at a partially collapsed building in Buck County, Pennsylvania, after a destructive tornado tore through the area on July 29. (Twitter/@87Oladipo)

Crews that entered the Faulkner Buick GMC building found all persons to be accounted for, according to the Courier Times.

Anthoney Perez, an employee of the dealership, told the news outlet that a weather alert had sounded on his phone "seconds" before the building was hit. He and a group of employees and customers had just enough time to take cover in a car before the roof collapsed.


There are mixed accounts regarding the total number of injuries. Bensalem Police Public Safety Director Fred Harran told the Courier Times that five people were injured in the Faulkner GMC building. However, Bill Rollin, the director for emergency alerts for the county along with Montgomery and Delaware counties, told CBS3 that the full amount of injuries was unknown at the time. Rollin also said that a mass casualty had been declared by Bucks County, which can be defined by any incident where at least three or more people have been injured.

The storms caused damage in other areas of the town as well, including a gardening center and a mobile home park. No other injuries have been reported.

a large building © Provided by AccuWeather
Severe damage was left behind in a garden center located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, after a tornado touched down in the area on Thursday, July 29. (Twitter/@PFDSullivan)

"In addition to the reports of tornadoes, there were also numerous reports of wind damage, hail as large as 1.5 inches in diameter and flash flooding from torrential rainfall across eastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey with the thunderstorms Thursday," AccuWeather Meteorologist Derek Witt said.

The storms that rolled through the region are associated with the same weather system that brought damaging winds, hail and isolated tornadoes to parts of the Midwest at midweek. There was a total of six preliminary tornado reports on Thursday across Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Looking ahead, weather in the region is expected to mostly cooperate with cleanup efforts.

"Temperatures across the region will run 5-10 degrees below average from Friday through early next week, and humidity levels will be down quite a bit during that time," Witt said. "Also, conditions will be dry on Friday and Saturday, but there can be a thunderstorm around on Sunday afternoon and evening."

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