One Year Ago: Tornado Rips Through the Area

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WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Thursday night will mark one year Wilkes-Barre Township became the bullseye for an EF-2 tornado, leaving a path of destruction and months of cleanup. It’s taken 365 days for some businesses to rebound.

You can see where buildings once stood in parts of the shopping centers. Just after 10:00 on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, an EF-2 tornado ripped through Wilkes-Barre Township. The devastation was widespread in the Arena Hub plaza and Wilkes-Barre Township commons. 130-mile-per-hour winds left cars overturned and building rooftops torn off.

“It felt very strange for this area, especially such a busy area because I think that’s what makes it scary is that everyone was out,” Stephanie Hopkins of Plymouth said.

One year later, remnants from the storm still linger. The building that housed Panera Bread and Famous Footwear? Torn down. Ashley Furniture relocated across the street. Dicks Sporting Goods reopened in November. Barnes & Noble followed in January.

“It’s disappointing that some of the places have not come back, and I am not sure if they are going to come back but it’s nice to see that Barnes & Noble’s bounced back,” Hopkins said.

“These are a lot of legacy businesses that decided to stay and reopen,” Wico Van Genderen said.

Van Genderen with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry says it’s amazing to see a community rebound after such a disaster.

“The key message really is that they knew that it was worth to re-invest in the area,” Van Genderen said.

“They wanted to re-open, and they did a great job to get set back up,” former Barnes & Noble manager Joe Stager said.

Stager was the manager on duty at the time of the tornado. He had just closed the store. Joe received several awards from his employer and the American Red Cross for his quick action that night.

“Helping to save lives, potentially saving lives of co-workers, it was a great honor. I was kind of shocked to even hear the word ‘hero’,” Stager said.

It’s amazing that no one was killed in that tornado last year. Now several people who were shopping and eating out were injured.


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