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Published: Saturday, 5/31/2008

High winds damage homes in several northwest Ohio counties

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A strong storm system roared through parts of Hancock, Seneca, and Putnam counties early Saturday morning, damaging homes and leaving some residents homeless, authorities said.

Officials said the hardest hit areas include Fostoria, Arcadia, Ohio, and areas near Glandorf, Ohio, in Putnam County.

Hancock County s Washington Township Fire Chief Bob Hill said a dozen homes were destroyed in the central eastern part of the township.

We had a really bad storm go through here about midnight last night and it was on the ground for about 4 to 5 miles, Chief Hill said. It started on the west of Arcadia and it went into the city of Fostoria where it seemed to dissipate.

The chief said some homes were missing walls and roofs, but most had minor damage.

We had one gentleman and his wife where the house came down around him, he said. They came out with just some bumps and scratches.

The department s firefighters reported seeing a tornado touchdown at about midnight.

We made a cell phone call right away to the Fostoria Fire Department and told them we had a tornado on the ground and they sounded their alarms, Chief Hill said.

The chief said people were pulling together to help those affected by the devastating storm.

I ve got a lot of people helping neighbors, he said. At one I counted 45 people in just one home helping.

Jamie Cook, 27, of Fostoria, carried her seven-month-old son to the basement to take shelter from the storm early Saturday.

A tree was uprooted and crashed into Ms. Cook s two-story home.

Oh my God, we just got out of bed and the sirens were going off, she said. It was it was rumbling, it was definitely shaking the house, it was outstanding. I have never heard anything like that before. I went numb.

Ms. Cook said the rumbling did not last long.

It was definitely a tornado, she added. It didn t last long and it went straight down the block and quickly none of the houses were damaged.

According to the Putnam County office of public safety, one business and eight homes were damaged or destroyed in Putnam County. Those who had to flee their homes have found shelter with family members.

Josh Walters, Putnam County s assistant emergency management agency coordinator, said the storm brought tornado-like activity.

We have seen at least four to five homes that have been damaged to the point that they are not habitable, Mr. Walters said. There are one or two barns that have been destroyed, and there is a lot of debris.

The National Weather Service has not confirmed any reports of tornados or touchdowns.

Many county and township roads that were closed overnight started to reopen midday. In the Arcadia area, four roads were initially closed because of storm damage.

The storm moved through northwest Ohio just after midnight, bringing high winds and rains. In some counties, tornado warnings were in effect until after 2 a.m. Saturday.

There is a hazardous weather outlook for most of northwest Ohio for Saturday, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. It is expected to be breezy in most areas with west winds between 13 and 23 mph.



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