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May 24, 2014

Insurer: One hail of a storm

Ice balls batter up to 7G autos; repair wait list at two months

— DANVILLE — Nearly 7,000 vehicles in the Danville area may have been damaged by Thursday’s freak hail storm that some residents say produced ice balls as large as grapefruits.

The Valley demand for rental cars has been so heavy that one company was summoning up to 1,000 vehicles from New York and Washington, D.C., said Jim Groninger of Groninger Insurance in Northumberland.

The number of claims he has seen rivals anything in nearly three decades he has been in the insurance business, Groninger said. His office had already had 160 claims as of midafternoon Friday. Erie Insurance, Groninger said, already has 4,000 claims and expects 10,000 by the end of the month.

“This wasn’t anything small,” Groninger said. “I’ve been doing this for 27 years and this is the worst claim (event) I’ve seen. It happened so fast and so was quick and in such a condensed area. We had no claims from Point Township or Elysburg. All from Danville.”

Some of the vehicles may take up to two months to repair, Groninger said.

The ice balls also caused extensive damage to homes in Danville and Mahoning Township, where residents Friday were raking and bagging debris and using chainsaws. Plastic covered blown-out windows in many vehicles parked in driveways.

A crew from Jack Hawk & Sons Lawn Service had raked its fourth load of debris at the Charles Street property of Charles and Helen Wagner. More loads were waiting in the backyard, said employee Jeff Blue, who was working with Drew Hoover and Jona Hughes.

Hail remained at the front entrance to the Wagner home late Friday morning. Two windows in their home were broken by the pounding of hail.

Blue said the crew had several yards to clean and expected to be putting in a long day.

Mahoning Township officials announced Friday that residents can take debris to the township property on Villa Street. Debris should be placed near the red salt shed.

On Cotswold Street, Bill DeRemer was taking pictures of the damage to his home. He said the siding, screens and the roof were affected. He was awaiting estimates from his insurance company and a contractor.

Meanwhile, Hawkins Collision Center, near Danville, was busy with people waiting in line to report damage to vehicles.

“I watched my own vehicle get hit,” center office manager Jan Hendrickson said. “It has a lot of dings.”

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