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Published: Tuesday, 7/3/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

400,000 in Ohio left in dark after latest storm

BLADE NEWS SERVICES
An Ohio Edison employee assesses the storm damage along East Fourth Street in Port Clinton. An Ohio Edison employee assesses the storm damage along East Fourth Street in Port Clinton.
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COLUMBUS -- About 400,000 Ohio customers were without power Monday evening after a second burst of thunderstorms knocked out electricity for thousands, including some who were left in the dark early in the weekend but had their power restored.

Gov. John Kasich had declared a state emergency during the weekend, called out the National Guard, and sought help from President Obama, who declared a federal emergency in Ohio.

Federal aid trucks carrying water were sent to six distribution points in southern and eastern Ohio.

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RELATED ARTICLE: Latest round of storms downs trees, cuts power

About 200 National Guard members were going door to door in the Columbus and Dayton areas Monday to check on residents.

Franklin County in central Ohio was hardest hit, with about 135,000 people still without power.

American Electric Power-Ohio President Pablo Vegas pledged crews would work through the July Fourth holiday.

Dayton Power and Light planned free ice giveaways to help some of its affected customers. The Dayton-area utility estimated it would have 95 percent of the 175,000 customers who lost power back up by Wednesday night.

Dayton Power and Light has 1,400 workers tasked with restoring power, using crews from Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. The utility serves 500,000 customers over 24 counties.

Out-of-state reinforcements have been limited by big needs in the District of Columbia area and neighboring states that were also hit by storms.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency said it was fielding dozens of calls from people who mistakenly thought state and federal officials were offering access to generators for personal use. The agency was redirecting those callers to local 211 hot lines and the American Red Cross for information about cooling shelters.

AEP said Friday's storm was Ohio's worst since the state was battered in 2008 by the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

Ike was the most damaging storm event in Ohio since the Xenia tornado in 1974, causing $1.3 billion in damages, said Mitch Wilson of the Ohio Insurance Institute.

Mr. Wilson said it would be weeks before the trade group would have even preliminary damage figures of the latest storm. Most damage appears to be downed trees into homes and vehicles, and roof damage, he said.

"A good number of people left the state Friday for vacation. Many people may not even know their property has been damaged," he said.

Meanwhile, many people visited friends and family to enjoy some air conditioning and to charge their cell phones and laptops.

Columbus resident Beatrice Alizo, her husband, and their five dogs have been without power since Friday evening. So Ms. Alizo and her husband have resorted to sometimes sleeping on their outside hammocks.

"I'm feeling sleep deprived and exhausted," she said. "Temperatures have been close to 100 degrees."

Ms. Alizo was using her laptop at a community center in suburban Worthington because she is applying for jobs online. But some of her files are stuck in her home desktop, which she can't turn on.

"I have deadlines. I have things to send," she said. "I don't know why it's taking so long to get power back."

The indoor shopping area at Easton Town Center, one of central Ohio's largest malls, lost power for a few hours Monday afternoon and officials were trying to determine if it was related to the storm outages.

Ohio officials confirmed one storm death. A 70-year-old woman died Friday evening in Muskingum County when a barn collapsed.

Attorney General Mike DeWine warned residents to be aware of scam artists coming into the state to take advantage of people looking for repairs.



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