A quick drop in atmospheric pressure caused the front windows of the senior citizens center in Hillsboro to be blown out during a Monday storm, according to Highland County EMA Director Dave Bushelman.
He said that according to the National Weather Service, which spent more than two hours Tuesday in Highland County surveying the storm damage, straight line winds of up to 70 mph caused damage in other areas around the county Monday.
There were houses damaged on Caleb Hill Road, Bushelman said, and damage in the Buford and Danville areas that included a couple barns and numerous downed trees and tree limbs.
Mechell Frost, executive director of the Highland County Senior Citizens Center, said she received a call at 5:37 p.m. Monday from Dean Elliott, who lives across the street from the center, saying strong winds just came through and the windows on the senior center were gone.
Tall glass windows make up large portion of the side of the senior center that faces Muntz Street.
“It was just strange. I got up here and it was an absolute glass mess,” Frost said Tuesday from the center.
She said that Mark Middleton, who lives next door to the center, was already starting to clean up glass when she arrived on the scene, and the Hillsboro Police Department was also there. She said the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District arrived shortly thereafter.
“Community people and Paint Creek started shoveling and sweeping all the glass. You couldn’t walk without stepping on glass,” Frost said. “When I walked inside the center I was just overwhelmed by all the glass. It was crazy. Then when I thought about it, I was so glad no one was here.”
She said the center had closed at 4 p.m. Monday and that three to four times a week there are female center members who play cards at a table near the front windows.
“The wind was so strong it sent glass through that table and it looks like someone took a knife and scratched it. I’m just so thankful,” Frost said.
Besides damage to the front windows, Frost said several ceiling panels were damage or knocked to the floor, some of the panel framing was bent, and power was knocked out to portions of the building. Glass also covered a carpeted sitting area near the front of the building, and Frost said there were so many splinters of glass in the carpet that she did not see any way it could be salvaged.
Power was not knocked out to the freezers or refrigerators, Frost said, but the center’s Meals of Wheels program was canceled Tuesday because there was a lot of dust and debris in the kitchen area. She said she expected it to resume Wednesday.
The center was closed Tuesday and remain closed until all the issues can be resolved. Frost said that will likely be a week or two.
She said that state Rep. Shane Wilkin, a former senior center board member, was “a huge help,” calling all the people needed to board up the windows and initiate the other cleaning processes. She said there were numerous other community members who stepped in to help, along with emergency personnel.
Wilkin owns Larry’s Party Shop next door and said his employees said the storm did nothing to that building except blow the front door open.
“I really can’t stress enough how much we really appreciate our community,” Frost said. “It was just awesome, because I’d still be there sweeping glass if it wasn’t for them.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.