Dresden struck by suspected 'microburst' storm

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
The Dresden DPW clearing fallen trees in the village square the morning after the storm.
As with the storm in 1978, it will take years for the visual loss of so many large trees, like these fallen locusts, to soften.

DRESDEN —In a repeat of the storm that struck Penn Yan two weeks ago, Mother Nature turned her wrath toward Seneca Lake and the smaller village of Dresden Tuesday night, June 13. This is the third such storm to hit Yates County this year, so far. The first knocked down a building under construction at Knapp & Schlappi Lumber in Penn Yan May 26.

As a line of storms crossed the state, a wind gust 78 mph was recorded at the Penn Yan Airport just before the storm his Dresden, which became the center of damage much like a previous storm in 1978, still recalled by many with wonder in its destruction.

Like then, the village's many beautiful trees took the brunt of the storm; but like the earlier storm in Penn Yan the houses of Dresden were largely spared, as were the headstones in Evergreen Cemetery.

An cemetery scene reminiscent of the earlier storm in Penn Yan.
Many of the largest trees barely missed the monuments in Evergreen Cemetery.
Dresden Methodist Church's First Aid Closet was also spared, but just barely.

One building did meet its end early in the storm. The storage barn at the village's water tank west of the village was blown out and over a 6-foot chain link fence and smashed to pieces. A large tree then fell across Route 54, taking town power lines and snapping off pole tops. The highway remained closed until well into the following day as repairs were made. 

These broken wall and roof pieces are all that remain of the Village of Dresden Water Department's storage barn that was blown out of the fenced yard seen in the distance at left.
The storm ripped the building from its anchors inside this 6-foot-high fenced yard, leaving behind the contents.
The east end of Route 54 was shut down until the following day as crews worked to remove fallen trees and restore power lines.

Three very large trees came down at the edge of the Dresden U.S. Navy base, one of which destroyed the base's sign completely but spared the flagpole next to it. Other trees and large limbs  were all snapped and generally laid down toward the east, giving credence to the belief this was a microburst rather than a tornado. Dresden crews were assisted by the Town of Torrey and the Town of Milo, as well as Jim Covell & Son Tree Service who contracts with the village. 

Smashed to pieces, the sign of the U.S. Naval Station is under that tree, yet the flagpole was spared.
Crews from Milo and Torrey responded to help Dresden clean up after the storm.

As residents cleaned up their yards and hauled what they could streetside, Mayor Bill Hall contemplated how the small village of fewer than 350 residents was going to cope with the costs. He has been informed their insurance will not cover the removal of the dozens of fallen trees, many of which were between 150 and 200 years old, he says. Ironically, Hall says Dresden was denied a grant from the Department of Homeland Security just days before, seeking an emergency power supply. The DHS replied the village did not have enough of a history of power outages to justify the grant.

This massive pile of logs and limbs is just the beginning of the debris to be cleaned up in Dresden.

"This may not be significant to the state or the DHS," said Hall, "but this is a major disaster for a little village like ours."

Even trees that survived lost many of their limbs and may still need to be removed.
A house next to the village square in Dresden.
Village residents will be clearing downed trees for some time as local arborist companies try to keep up.
Most of the trees fell or split toward the east.
Evergreen Cemetery was particularly hard hit.
Covell & Son working in the cemetery.
Many of the largest trees barely missed the monuments in Evergreen Cemetery.
Many of the largest trees barely missed the monuments in Evergreen Cemetery.
As Covell & Sons clears the fallen trees, it seems most of the houses in Dresden, like this house near the square, suffered only minor damage; good news to the many young families and elderly residents of the village.
Companies and municipal crews still have work to do in the cemetery and other parts of Dresden.