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Tornado touches down near Hurlock

CAMBRIDGE — A tornado touched down Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 1, near Hurlock as a storm cell from the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed over the Eastern Shore.

The tornado passed over Payne Road, Bobtown Road and Gravel Branch Road, passing over a house and flipping two sections of an agricultural irrigation system. The storm also broke branches and knocked a tree down into the road in Dorchester County.

The family in the house had almost no warning before the tornado hit.

“It got black, leaves were flying around,” said Taylor Stylc. “I was really scared.”

Stylc said there was no hail or loud noise prior. “Oh! It’s here!” she remembered saying.

“I got them (Stylc and 5-year-old Aurora) and the dogs into the bathroom,” said Clint Adams, where the family passed the sudden storm safely. Adams agreed the immediate approach of the storm was a complete surprise.

Another round of damage was reported around 7 p.m., with wind damage reported in the industrial park area of Hurlock.

Rotations were also reported over the southern portion of the county near Hoopersville, Crapo and Bucktown, although there was no touchdown.

Emergency responders answered a 911 medical call in the northern area of the county in the midst of the storm cell moving through the area.

The dispatcher advised caution due to the cell passing to the north, and the ambulance crew notified dispatch they were routing to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford, Delaware.

Mike Detmer is a staff writer for the Dorchester Star and Star Democrat based in Maryland. You can reach him at mdetmer@chespub.com.

Tornado sweeps through Annapolis area, causing damage to homes, businesses

ANNAPOLIS — A tornado swept through the Annapolis area Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind a path of fallen trees, debris and damaged property.

As remnants of Hurricane Ida moved into the region early Wednesday afternoon, watches and warnings were issued across the state in anticipation of severe weather. A portion of Anne Arundel County was placed under a tornado warning around 2 p.m. There were also tornado watches and warnings as well as funnel clouds spotted on the Eastern Shore.

The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado via radar just before it touched down in Edgewater around 2:30 p.m. Photos posted to social media gave a glimpse into the extent of damage to the area — windows blown out of homes, roofs sheared off by wind, a damaged high school football stadium, downed trees and boats moved off of their trailers.

The Annapolis tornado continued to move northeast, causing significant damage to businesses along West Street in Annapolis, located just off of eastbound Route 50. Downed power lines, large chunks of debris and branches, damaged cars and a gas leak caused a portion of the street to be closed off from traffic.

As crews begin to clean up the tornado’s damage, the county is also preparing for coastal flooding after the remnants of Ida dumped several inches of rain across the state. The last of the rain is expected to move out by sunrise Thursday morning.

The strength of the tornado on the Fujita scale has not yet been released by the National Weather Service.

3 things

1 Famous birthdays: Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, R-Wyo., is 90. R&B singer Rosalind Ashford (Martha & the Vandellas) is 78. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw is 73. Basketball Hall of Famer Nate Archibald is 73. Actor Mark Harmon is 70. Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson is 61. Actor Keanu Reeves is 57. International Boxing Hall of Famer Lennox Lewis is 56. Actor Salma Hayek (pictured) is 55. Actor Tiffany Hines is 44. Rock musician Sam Rivers (Limp Bizkit) is 44. Actor Allison Miller is 36. Electronic music DJ/producer Zedd is 32.

2 On this day in history, in 1666, the Great Fire of London broke out. On Sept. 2, 1969, in what some regard as the birth of the Internet, two connected computers at the University of California, Los Angeles, passed test data through a 15-foot cable. In 1963, Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace prevented the integration of Tuskegee High School by encircling the building with state troopers. “The CBS Evening News” with Walter Cronkite was lengthened from 15 to 30 minutes, becoming network television’s first half-hour nightly newscast. (More history on A4)

3 Law enforcement officers seized over a kilo of meth and made an arrest of a suspect during a raid last week on Hoopers Island in Dorchester County. Members of the Dorchester County Narcotics Task Force assisted members of the Homeland Security Investigation, RAC Eastern Shore, with the execution of a search and seizure warrant on Wednesday, Aug. 25, in a house on the 2500 block of Old House Point Road in Fishing Creek. Dorchester’s Sheriff Jimmy Phillips said the search of the residence revealed an alleged 1.26 kilograms of methamphetamine and resulted in the arrest of 34-year-old Frederico Borquez Garcia. (Story on A3)

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Talbot Goes Purple kicks off with 'Festival of Hope' at Idlewild Park

EASTON — Talbot County officially kicked off Talbot Goes Purple on Aug. 31, with a crowd gathering at Idlewild Park to get educated about substance abuse and the ongoing opioid crisis that affects thousands of Marylanders every year and has worsened during the pandemic.

The fifth annual kickoff event — hosted by Talbot Goes Purple, Christ Church of Easton, Mid-Shore Restoring Hope in Women and the Town of Easton — started at 6 p.m. People visited 20 educational booths at the park, ate free food and listened to music from an 11-member religious band out of Christ Church.

The founders of Talbot Goes Purple, Sheriff Joe Gamble and Lucie Hughes of Tidewater Rotary, spoke about the importance of spreading awareness about substance abuse, especially since opioid-related fatalities in Maryland increased more than 22% last year, with a record of 2,518 recorded deaths.

In her remarks, Hughes said it was fitting to speak on International Overdose Awareness Day as the U.S. is still fighting hard to end substance abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded a record number of overdoses for all substances last year, with deaths reaching 93,000 in the country.

“Talbot Goes Purple messages are needed now more than ever. Drug overdose deaths in the United States rose by almost 30% in 2020 hitting the highest number ever recorded. And we thought everyone could use some hope right now,” said Hughes. “Talbot Goes Purple could not think of a more meaningful day than today to kick off our year five of standing up against substance abuse.”

Among the many booths was the Talbot County Health Department, where officials demonstrated how to use the medication Narcan, which reverses an overdose. Other vendors, such as Humble House, a recovery program, and the Talbot County Addictions Program, were on site to provide pamphlets and educational material.

Lights strung up at buildings and street lamps around Easton officially went purple at 7:45 p.m., signifying the start of substance abuse awareness throughout September.

In Maryland, 2021 is shaping up to be worse than last year for opioid-related deaths. In the first quarter of 2020, the state recorded 576 opioid-related fatalities. That number hit 612 in the first quarter of 2021.

Sheriff Joe Gamble said while opioid-related deaths have increased in the state, Talbot has so far remained stable, with 13 deaths in 2019 and another 13 recorded in 2020.

Deputies with the sheriff’s office are also seeing a high number of opioids — a branch of compounds and substances extracted from poppy seeds that includes painkillers, heroin, morphine and fentanyl — on the streets. Deputies performing traffic stops are now finding a lot of fentanyl, which Gamble said accounts for 93% of all overdoses because it is much more lethal than other substances.

“When we started this five years ago it was heroin, and then it was heroin with fentanyl, and now it’s fentanyl mixed with cocaine,” Gamble said. “The illegal fentanyl is through the roof.”

Just before the purple lights kicked on, family members and friends encircled the field at Idlewild Park with candles and photographs of loved ones who had passed, honoring them in a vigil ceremony as the band played solemn music.

Bruce Strazza, the minister of music at Christ Church, led the band procession at the kickoff, singing uplifting tunes of hope in the beginning, and then songs of reflection during the vigil ceremony.

Strazza has been in recovery for eight years, and he lost his brother to opioids 25 years ago. He’s also helped reverse overdoses with six people — both strangers and friends.

When Strazza himself was using, he would travel to five doctors in three different states to get opioids. It was a hard addiction for him to kick: he was sober for 13 years, then used again for three, before finally remaining in recovery for the last eight.

Now, spreading awareness about opioids is something Strazza is extremely passionate about, and the musician often tours churches around the community to tell his story.

“That’s how I give back,” he said. Strazza just wants to give hope to others like him, so he can prevent tragedies like his brother’s. “If you would have told me eight years ago that I’d be working at a church and singing music like this, I would have called you a liar.”

Residents across the Mid-Shore came out to support loved ones and friends who are still in recovery or struggling with substance abuse.

Scott Tull Jr., 31, of Easton, is now three years sober. He attended the kickoff to encourage education and help spread awareness on substance abuse. Tull, who wanted to share his personal story, said he enlisted in the military and got hooked on pain pills after he was treated with the medicine following an injury in Afghanistan, where he was deployed.

In 2017, a near-fatal overdose cut off blood to Tull’s leg, which forced an amputation. He now has a prosthetic.

“Actually, that wasn’t the last time I used,” Tull said. “I got back for like a normal baseline and was okay, but I hadn’t addressed any of my issues. I ended up picking it right back up and finally I ended up out of Inova Fairfax (Medical Campus) and overdosed. At that point I burned all my bridges and had nowhere to go.”Afterward, Tull went to a Veterans Affairs facility in Baltimore and was then placed into a rehab program, and has recovered and is holding a steady job.

Tull said he wants those struggling with substance abuse to know that they are not alone and will not be judged.

Talbot Goes Purple will provide daily educational messages on its website and Facebook page, and work with local TGP clubs in schools to spread awareness. Program partners include Talbot County Public Schools, Saints Peter and Paul and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. TGP is always encouraging homeowners to string up purple lights, start conversations with children and youth, and buy purple merchandise available on the website.

TGP has also launched Operation Save A Life, a program initiated by Worcester Goes Purple and Warriors Against Addiction to place overdose response kits at all local businesses, at no cost to them. Those interested in getting a kit can reach out to TGP.

TGP was launched in 2016 by Gamble and Hughes, who modeled the program after THP Project Purple. Project Purple was started by former NBA star Chris Herren to spread awareness about substance abuse.

Gamble said this year, he wants parents to “get the facts” and “get involved” with TGP, and to inform their children about opioids.

“Ten percent of society is predisposed to addiction. You might have 10 kids for underage drinking when they’re in 10th grade, and think it’s fine. But you don’t know which kid in there has an addiction card in his (or her) back pocket,” said Gamble. “We’re trying to empower people. The country has been torn apart with political stuff and COVID, and this is something we can come together on.”