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Published: Thursday, 6/10/2010

Toledo crews helping with area tornado cleanup

BLADE STAFF

City of Toledo crews were on the ground in Lake Township and in Fulton County Wednesday helping with the massive task of clearing debris and rubble from Saturday's powerful tornado that destroyed Lake High School, the township administration building, and at least 50 houses.

The Bell administration authorized seven dump trucks, one excavator, and three front-end loaders and enough city employees to operate the equipment in Lake Township in Wood County.

Jen Sorgenfrei, spokesman to Mayor Mike Bell, said the debris would be taken to the Hoffman Road landfill and sorted on site.

The city also sent crews to the affected area of Fulton County where at least two tornadoes destroyed homes in Swancreek and York townships.

Two three-person crews, two speed-loader trucks, and two chipper trucks were sent to the county, Ms. Sorgenfrei said.

Also Wednesday, Lake Local Schools officials learned they are to receive 10 school buses from Columbus City Schools to help with transportation needs over the summer.

Lake High School was destroyed by a tornado during the weekend storm and several school buses were damaged.

Volunteers from Columbus will drive the school buses to Wood County on Friday.

Kim Norris, spokesman for Columbus City Schools, said the buses were no longer needed by the district and had been put up for auction. They have been certified as safe by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, she said.

"We are able and glad to provide this critical transportation to another school district for their summer school and for the residents of Wood County," Ms. Norris said.

At a Wednesday morning news conference, Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer said there were three area arrests made on Tuesday: two for looting and one for inducing panic because the suspect set off a small pop bottle bomb.

The bomb was set off far from where the tornado cut a swath of damage 8 to 10 miles wide, but already-strained safety forces had to be sent to the scene so the arrest was made, Chief Hummer said.

Wood County tornado sirens will be tested on Thursday. The sounding is part of county-wide testing that is being done to make sure all sirens are in working order and none were damaged after last weekend's devastating tornadoes, Brad Gilbert, the county's Emergency Management Agency director, said at the Wednesday morning news conference attended by several safety officials.

The officials, which also included Lake Township Fire Chief Todd Walters, expressed gratitude that more than 650 volunteers coordinated by United Way spent Tuesday helping with cleanup in the area.

And finally, workers on Wednesday and for the rest of the week will be spending their days removing as much debris as they can from roads and properties.

The news at the Wednesday conference was not all doom and gloom: workers were successful in getting tarps in place over the ruined Lake High School before Tuesday's rains and no more tarps are need.

And Tuesday's rains actually helped rather than hindered cleanup efforts because they kept dust down, the officials said.



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