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Published: Thursday, 8/28/2003

Intense winds fell trees, lines in region

Utility and emergency crews were busy yesterday cleaning up after severe thunderstorms whipped parts of northwest Ohio with winds of up to 70 mph, downing power lines, damaging homes, and knocking over trees.

Allen County, which bore the brunt of the storm, reported that a tornado briefly touched down Tuesday evening on State Rt. 65 in Perry Township, destroying a barn.

Russ Decker, director of the county's office of homeland security and emergency management, said the twister was a relatively weak F0 or F1 storm. “The rest of the damage in the county was from the straight-line winds,” Mr. Decker said.

That damage included hundreds of downed trees, which blocked at least 45 county roads Tuesday night, Mr. Decker said. Shawnee Township was hit especially hard.

One motorist in the township was seriously injured when a tree 2 feet thick fell on her car on Fort Amanda Road about 6:35 p.m. Lorie Hennon, 42, of Botkins, Ohio, was in serious condition yesterday at St. Rita's Medical Center in Lima.

“It hit right on top of her head, over the driver's compartment,” township fire Chief Tim Mosher said. “A 6-inch limb punched through the roof onto the seat right beside her, so she's really fortunate. It just missed her by inches.”

Chief Mosher said the storm destroyed more than 200 trees at the Shawnee Country Club and damaged several houses in the Fairway View Estates subdivision. A tree fell on one of the homes, destroying a garage and three cars inside, the chief said.

Dozens of power poles were snapped from falling tree limbs. About 5,000 customers of American Electric Power in Allen and Wyandot counties lost power Tuesday night, and about 1,700 remained without electricity yesterday afternoon, said Shelly Diamattio, a company spokesman. She said the utility expected to have all of its customers back on line last night.

Because of the power outage, students in Allen County's Perry and Shawnee school districts stayed home yesterday, as did students at St. Charles School and Lima Central Catholic High School in Lima.

Tree limbs and power lines also were reported down in Fulton, Henry, and Putnam counties. In Hancock County, lightning struck the roof of the Birchaven Retirement Village about 6:30 p.m. The strike did not damage the assisted-living center east of Findlay, but it activated the building's sprinkler system.

Findlay fire Capt. Rex Hover said the facility, which opened this spring, would have to replace ceilings and carpeting damaged by water from the sprinklers. He did not have a damage estimate.

No one was injured.

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