BY REBECCA BENNETT — The May 2 severe thunderstorm brought buckets of rain and hail to an unsuspecting City of Hyattsville. That storm took down tree after tree in the city, destroyed houses and knocked down power lines into streets, sidewalks, and yards. Various streets also experienced flash flooding. Residents who did not wake up to trees down near their homes found leaves, sticks and branches blanketing the neighborhood like confetti. It has been clear that Pepco, the City of Hyattsville Department of Public Works, and other local utilities and companies have been working hard around the clock to help clean up and restore a sense of normal to local residents.
A scene that played out on many local streets Monday night, residents of the 3800 block of Nicholson Street sat in the dark as they watched the steady return of city lights reflecting brighter orange on a cloudy night sky. It was a symbol that power had returned to neighboring communities in Washington, DC, and Maryland — just not to them. Residents knew the extent of the damage meant it could be days before the power was back on.
Nicholson Street, a popular cut-through from Queens Chapel Road to 40th Avenue, was completely blocked by a large tree, which took down power lines and almost prevented even pedestrian access. Down the hill, a live power line sparked wildly in the middle of the road as crews tried to shut off the power. Residents gathered to inspect the damage, which included power and utility lines down just inches from Clarke Bedford’s Art House.
Pepco quickly arrived to assess the damage, and just after 12:30 a.m., Ashplundh crews arrived to dismantle the large tree. Power was not estimated to be restored until at least 7 p.m. Tuesday, but crews worked all night and residents pleasantly found it back on at approximately 8:30 a.m. In the morning, massive piles of logs from the tree were found on both sides of the road. The tree was so large, parts of it blocked several residents from getting out of their driveways until Wednesday.
That was not the only tree down in the immediate area. Andrew Marder and Rebecca Bennett from the Hyattsville Life & Times canvassed some of the neighborhood to find several trees down in a short radius. Police blocked off 40th Avenue at Oliver Street for a tree that came down in the road. Two trees were down in the 4100 block of Oglethorpe Street. One of those homeowners was lucky to only find a large tree knocked over into several other standing trees. Across the street, Mike Curran’s family found their house decimated by a nearby tree. The way the tree tore through the roof and floors of the house is just a testament to how powerful nature can be.
On 40th Avenue near Ingraham Street, several residents counted their blessings. One homeowner suspected lighting may have hit the tree in her yard on 40th Avenue, which was found split into two around a shed. One massive half of the tree — the size of a large tree itself — fell into the backyards of several Ingraham Street houses. The other equally-sized half of the tree fell between two houses at the corner of Ingraham Street. One of those houses is under contract and about to be closed on very soon. Future Hyattsville residents surveyed the damage Tuesday on the the house they are about to move into.
Residents reported that Friendship Arms on 42nd Avenue had two trees struck down, as well as several limbs. One of those trees fell on a car and a fence. A large container was thrown off a loading dock, according to a resident.
The City of Hyattsville and residents also reported at least one tree down in Magruder Park, on 38th Avenue, in the 3600 block of Oliver Street, and in the Arts District development. But, these were only a few of the many trees that were taken in last night’s storm.
True to the character of Hyattsville, neighbors used local listservs and social media groups to check in on each other. To join the HOPE in Hyattsville listserv: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/HOPE_in_Hyattsville/info
To report a tree down in the City of Hyattsville, call 301.985.5032.