Patrick Clafferty, left, and Joe Brooks of Elmwood Tree Service load storm-damaged tree limbs into a chipper Wednesday at a home on Nittany Court in New
Patrick Clafferty, left, and Joe Brooks of Elmwood Tree Service load storm-damaged tree limbs into a chipper Wednesday at a home on Nittany Court in New Freedom. (John A. Pavoncello — jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

Baseball and a promise likely saved Tom Stone's life — or at the very least kept him from suffering serious injuries.

The New Freedom man promised his 7-year-old son, Jacob, that the two would play baseball Tuesday night.

But first, Stone, who was just home from work, needed a nap. So he laid down for a quick snooze on the bed in the master bedroom of the family's home in the 100 block of Reehling Road.

As the sky darkened about 7 p.m., Jacob woke his father, telling him "we're burning daylight," Stone recounted Wednesday evening.

Moments after Stone was out of bed, high winds from a powerful storm sent a tree crashing through the roof over the bedroom, causing the ceiling, insulation and bits of the tree to fall on the bed.

New Freedom cleans up after Tuesday’s storm downed trees and power lines, leaving the entire borough without power Wednesday.
New Freedom cleans up after Tuesday's storm downed trees and power lines, leaving the entire borough without power Wednesday. (John A. Pavoncello — jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

"A pinky promise saved my life," Stone said as he cleared leaves and tree branches from the rear deck of the home.

County-wide: The Stones' home is one of many in York County damaged when a fast-moving storm hit the area Tuesday night.

The storm knocked down "quite a few" trees, branches and wires that caused travel difficulties and dangerous conditions, said county spokesman Carl Lindquist, adding about five or six homes were damaged by trees.

But as the storm passed, the clean up got underway.

Al Butler, owner of Elmwood Tree Service in Dallastown, started his day cleaning up the mess about 6 a.m. At 9 p.m., he was just returning home to finish paperwork after the busy day.

"We were getting calls from all over the county. Dillsburg, Dover, New Freedom. Everywhere," he said.

The storm also caused numerous first responders to be dispatched for calls that ranged from trees on homes to wires on the ground.

During the peak hour of the storm, York County 911 dispatchers handled 870 calls — about double the normal amount, Lindquist said.

But the far-reaching effect of the storm was, and in some cases still is, the power outages that at one point left tens of thousands of residents without electricity.

"Our primary concern right now centers around the power outage," Lindquist said, although no critical facilities, such as nursing homes, were in the dark.

Outages: At the height of the outages, about 31,600 Met-Ed customers were without power, but as of Wednesday night, only 3,351 still remained in the dark.

"That is quite a significant restoration project that's already taken place," said Ron Morano, a Met-Ed spokesman.

He said power to most of the company's customers will be restored by midnight Thursday, with full restoration to all customers by the end of Friday.

Met-Ed crews from across Pennsylvania and from out of state had been sent to the county to help restore power.

Also as of Wednesday night, PPL was reporting just 271 customers remained in the dark.

Damage: As the hum of portable generators filled the air in the New Freedom neighborhood still without power, a crew of workers nailed tarpaulins in place over the gaping hole in the roof of the Stones' home.

A tree in a neighbor's yard snapped in half during the storm and took out a utility line that fed electricity and other utilities to the homes in the 100 block of Reehling Road.

With the damage done, Stone and his wife, Kim Stone, said they are looking to the future and remodeling their home, which sustained damage to its foundation from fallen trees.

But first, a crane will have to be brought in to remove the tree stuck in the bedroom where branches and leaves form a patchwork ceiling, Kim Stone said.

All told, four or five trees fell on the house and one fell on the family's van, totalling it, Kim Stone said, pointing to branches littering the front yard and driveway of the home.

Despite the damage, Kim and Tom Stone said they are thankful neither they nor their son were injured during the storm.

"You can't complain. There are people that lost a child," she said. "We'll get through this one day at a time. One branch at a time."

— Staff writer Mollie Durkin contributed to this report.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.