Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Thousands in northwest Ohio likely to lack power till midweek

Windy storm damages houses, businesses

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    Wind tore the roof off a barn on Union Township Road 42 in Hancock County.

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    Wyatt, left, and Ben Montgomery pull tree limbs from their truck, adding to a growing pile in Findlay.

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    Darlene and Richard Williams, with their daughter Michele, inspect their barn in Mount Cory, Ohio.

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Editor's Note: This version updates the number of Toledo Edison and AEP Ohio customers still without power Monday morning.


Wind tore the roof off a barn on Union Township Road 42 in Hancock County.

The Blade/Lori King
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MOUNT CORY, Ohio -- As the first raindrops of a new bout of severe weather fell Sunday afternoon, Richard, Darlene, and Michele Williams stood before the barn Mr. Williams built with his neighbor in 1988, now splintered and roofless after fierce thunderstorms roared through this Hancock County village on Friday.

Mr. Williams and Michele, his adult daughter, had collected some pieces of the roof into a gnarled pile of metal across the road. The rest of the roof, they said, was where the storm left it: in their cornfields.

"I have no idea how long it took. I have no idea of the color of the sky. I just remember 12-by-12 strips of metal stuff flying off the roof. It was all you could see," said Ms. Williams, who had been outdoors next to the barn with her father securing vehicles in the yard when gusts exceeding 80 mph destroyed the structure. "It was so sudden, just like Twister."

But rain that fell Sunday was fairly brief and light. Damage occurred farther north, where storm-related tree and power-line damage left more than 10,000 electricity customers in counties along Ohio's Michigan border and Lake Erie newly in the dark.

RELATED ARTICLE: Deadly heat, outages threaten storm victims

Those outages paled in comparison with the tens of thousands of homes and businesses farther south that remained without power in the aftermath of Friday's destructive weather. Many were expected to remain without lights -- or air conditioning -- for days to come. AEP Ohio reported Sunday night that 13,583, or about 46 percent, of its Hancock County customers remained in the dark; in neighboring Putnam County, 8,090 customers still lacked power -- more than three-quarters of AEP's accounts there.

Carmen Prati-Miller, an AEP spokesman, said the company had about 4,000 people working 16-hour shifts to restore power, a task that included replacing 170 damaged transmission towers in western Ohio.

"One obstacle our crews are facing is extremely hot temperatures," Ms. Prati-Miller said. "The outage locations are many and very scattered."


Darlene and Richard Williams, with their daughter Michele, inspect their barn in Mount Cory, Ohio.

The Blade/Lori King
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Statewide, about 660,000 AEP customers in Ohio lost power Friday; about 250,000 had been brought back on line by today.

At least three crews from Hancock-Wood Electrical Cooperative worked with contractors from Detroit Edison throughout the weekend in Mount Cory to repair fallen power lines and install new utility poles, but they did not expect to restore power before midweek.

Outage information was not available from Hancock-Wood Sunday evening.

In Lima, Ohio, Mayor David Berger announced contingency plans for a city council meeting scheduled today. If power remains out at the Municipal Center, he said, the 7 p.m. meeting will be moved to Lima Senior High School and start at 7:15 to give people time to travel to the new location.

Mr. Williams and John Balicki, who lost a roof from his garage in Benton Ridge, were both among those without electricity Sunday.

Mr. Balicki had spent two hours Saturday putting a tarp on the hole, but gave up Sunday afternoon when winds from the fresh foul weather moved in. He focused instead on covering the most valuable tools inside the building with the tarps.

"I felt like a human kite up there, so I just had to come down," Mr. Balicki said.

At Findlay Warehousing Co., Ben and Wyatt Montgomery unloaded a trailer full of branches onto a mound more than 20 feet tall and said it was the sixth load of debris they had cleared from their sister's property.

A large tree splintered and fell in her yard, snaring power and cable-television wires and damaging a fence, they said.

The company's yard-waste drop-off center is normally closed on Sundays, but it remained open both days during the weekend to accept storm debris.

On Monto Lane in Findlay, Rick Busse, a certified storm inspector with NASCO roofing and siding, surveyed a home missing a wall of shingles, stripped by the wind. He estimated the damage at about $4,000, but said he had seen a number of homes in that housing development with up to $20,000 in damage.

"I just got off the freeway and this was the first development I saw. I've been here for two days now," said Mr. Busse, who travels to storm-affected areas to offer damage assessments and estimates for repair costs.


Wyatt, left, and Ben Montgomery pull tree limbs from their truck, adding to a growing pile in Findlay.

The Blade/Lori King
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Initial storm-watch areas for Sunday afternoon included Hancock and Putnam counties, but as a cluster of thunderstorms moved across northern Indiana it drifted south and passed south of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Lima, Ohio, while other storms formed over southern Michigan and followed several tracks near metro Toledo and across Lake Erie into the Sandusky area late Sunday afternoon.

Toledo Edison spokesman Reggie Strauss said about 6,000 customers in its service area from Indiana to Port Clinton lost electricity, with the biggest problems in the Wauseon area and West Toledo. Four Toledo Edison customers remained without power today in Toledo area, 76 in Defiance, 59 in Wauseon, and seven in Sandusky County, a utility spokesman said

"We pretty much dodged the bullet on this one" when the storm moved out into Lake Erie, he said.

Hard-hit areas east of Toledo included Danbury Township and Catawba Island in Ottawa County, where more than 1,800 customers lost power, Erie County's Milan Township, where 772 customers were affected, and Sandusky, where about 640 customers were blacked out, Ohio Edison spokesman Gary Mortus said.

In Providence Township, a barn at 7100 Berridge Rd. that was struck by lightning caught fire at about 5:45 p.m., the Lucas County Sheriff's Office reported. No animals were inside at the time and there were no immediate reports of injuries, but the road remained closed to traffic nearly two hours later.

Fresh fallen-tree reports were scattered widely across the area, as were reports of small hail.

Wauseon police reported fallen trees blocking parts of East Linfoot and East Elm streets, while the Fulton County Sheriff's Office said power poles had snapped and parts of a roof and a wall from a building at State Rts. 2 and 66 in German Township were blown into the road.

Sheriff's deputies in Wood and Henry counties also described widespread damage from fallen trees and branches, especially in the Liberty Center, Ohio, area. Police in Fremont and Tiffin said several large tree limbs had fallen in each city.

All of both days' thunderstorm activity occurred amid a heat wave expected to persist in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan through the week. For Toledo, the National Weather Service office in Cleveland predicted Sunday evening that highs will persist in the low to mid-90s through next weekend, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms daily through Wednesday and again on Saturday and Sunday.

The Defiance County Red Cross announced it had set up an emergency shelter at the First Church of Christ in Hicksville, Ohio, and that both the church and its chapter office in Defiance are open from noon to 8 p.m. as "cooling centers" for people who need relief from the heat. Among the power outages' effects are the loss of air conditioning in many homes whose residents depend on it to avoid heat-related illness.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments has issued an Ozone Action! air quality alert for Monroe County and metro Detroit today.

Although heat and sunshine in the region are expected to be similar to recent days when no alerts were issued, little or no wind is forecast today, which may allow the air to stagnate and pollutants to accumulate, the agency said in announcing the alert.

During Ozone Action! alerts, residents and commuters are asked to minimize activities that contribute to air pollution, particularly the use of vehicles and equipment with gasoline-fueled engines. Vehicle refueling should be delayed until evening to reduce the impact of gasoline vapors escaping from pump nozzles.

Although Toledo does not issue formal Ozone Action! alerts, the city Division of Environmental services cautioned late last week that an extended period of poor air quality is likely because of heat and sunshine.

Heat and bright sunlight are catalysts for the atmospheric creation of ozone, which at the surface is a pollutant that contributes to breathing problems, from oxygen and hydrocarbons emissions in the air.

Staff writers Madeline Buxton, David Patch, and Jim Sielicki contributed to this report.

Contact Jessica Shor at: or 419-724-6516.

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