Bladensburg microburst damages homes, litters streets with debris

As cleanup from last Friday's microburst in Bladensburg continues, emergency management in Prince George's County says that more than a dozen structures in the town still remain uninhabitable.

Many residents across the D.C. region spent the weekend cleaning up storm damage after a microburst hit the area, causing widespread destruction. A shelter that opened for displaced residents at Bladensburg High School will remain open on Monday night, providing shelter and assistance to those who are out of their homes.

The microburst, which consisted of a very powerful, downward wind gust that can push wind speeds to nearly 100 mph, caused widespead damage in the Maryland town. Bladensburg Mayor Walter James, Jr. estimated late last week that damage could be in he millions.

Out of 121 structures examined, county officials say that 21 have been deemed unsafe. Officials estimate that at least 2,000 people were affected by the storm and 600 have been displaced. Luckily, though, no one was killed in the sudden, intense storm.

"You would think that somebody has been killed in this situation. It was a blessing," Mayor James said.

Large swaths of Bladenwoods Condominiums were left uninhabitable after parts of the roof were torn off.

Inside, contractors replaced residents, cleaning up and securing the devastated building.

Bruce Banks, who was displaced by the storm, said, "I don't like this situation. I have never been in this kind of ordeal."

Erica Bowen and her son returned Sunday night from a trip to California. Instead of heading home, they hunkered down in a make shift shelter. The Red Cross says it tentatively plans to close the shelter tomorrow night, leaving Bowen worried about what her next move will be.

"We are going to be outside, because we're not allowed to go back into our units, you know. So, we are going to be outside," Bowen said.

Meanwhile, some residents have started to return to the units deemed safe.

Resident Diane Miles said, "At least we are in our house, some people aren't even in theirs. "

While they are thankful to be back home, they say life is far from what it was prior to Friday's storm.

Marcus Miles, a Blandenwoods Condomiums resident, added, "It's kind of uncomfortable...they have all these police riding around, they have all these lights up everywhere in the neighborhood and it's like a war zone right now."

Along Newton Street near Bladensburg's historic core, the massive cleanup continues as residents try to salvage important belongings from damaged homes. Tony King, the son of a displaced resident, said he has lost family photos.

"Those are the kinds of things you can't replace," King said.

Meanwhile, battered cars still line the street as work crews remove piles of debris and shore up buildings that had roofs ripped right off. A deadline is looming on residents to get things from their homes as well.

"Two days is not enough time to get your stuff when you've lived here for more than 10 years," displaced Bladensburg resident Lee Collins said.

County emergency officials say that people who are looking to dispose of storm debris can take it to the Brown Station Road Sanitary Landfill at 11611 White House road in Upper Marlboro or the Prince George's County Yard Waste Composting Facility at 6601 E. Crain Highway in Upper Marlboro.

Officials also say that anyone needing assistance or information can call the county's Emergency Operations Hotline at (301) 583-2230.