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Icy bridges added two northwest Ohio drivers' names Tuesday morning to the nationwide death toll from Hurricane Sandy as the storm's post-landfall aftermath swept into the lower Great Lakes region.
Authorities said Tina Goodwin, 56, of Wauseon and Dustin Brown, 22, of Bluffton were killed in separate collisions on U.S. 20A and State Rt. 115, respectively, after their cars skidded on bridges made icy by snow and sleet that fell early in the day along the massive storm's western edge.
The storm's high winds also caused scattered power outages in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, and fallen wires and trees blocked some roads. More significant blackouts occurred in the Cleveland and Detroit areas.
But aside from waves crashing ashore, coastal flooding was minor in the Toledo area despite winds of 45 mph and higher along Lake Erie. Sustained winds reached 52 mph at South Bass Island and 50 at the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse, according to the National Weather Service.
Minor snow accumulations, all of which melted during the day, were reported south of Toledo, while snow and sleet mixed with rain in the city overnight. The wintry precipitation was enough to glaze bridges to the city's south and west.
The Ohio Highway Patrol said Ms. Goodwin was eastbound on U.S. 20A west of Fulton County Road 12 in York Township between Delta and Wauseon when she lost control on an icy bridge, went left of center, and collided head-on with an on-coming pickup. She was pronounced dead at Fulton County Health Center, Wauseon.
Pickup driver Jared McClarren, 59, of Wauseon, was treated at the same hospital. He was wearing a seat belt, troopers said, but Ms. Goodwin was not, nor was Mr. Brown, who was declared dead at the scene after his car crossed the center line and collided with an on-coming van on Route 115 north of Kalida, near State Rt. 694.
Van driver Gregory Bowers, 41, of Stryker and a passenger in his vehicle both suffered minor injuries, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office reported.
The Putnam County crash was reported at 8:24 a.m., while the one in Fulton County occurred about 20 minutes later.
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Power outages in Ohio totaled about 250,000 from the storm, with the vast majority in the northeastern part of the state, but schools were closed or delayed in many areas because of the weather.
Part of I-90 along Lake Erie east of downtown Cleveland was closed because of flooding. In northwest Ohio, the Ohio Department of Transportation reported some temporary road closings because of fallen trees or power lines, as well as some sign damage.
“With the exception of some minor things, it's really not too much,” said Theresa Pollick, a spokesman at ODOT's district office in Bowling Green.
The wind's northerly direction meant that the area's two most wind-exposed bridges, the Thomas Edison Bridge across Sandusky Bay and the Veterans' Glass City Skyway in Toledo, did not have crosswind problems, Ms. Pollick noted.
Robert Laplante, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Cleveland, said the north wind pushed Lake Erie's water level up by 35 inches at Cleveland, and 28 inches at Marblehead in Ottawa County.
Those were just below the levels necessary to cause coastal flooding, he said, although wave action was enough to “move some rocks around” on coastal breakwalls, and beach sand was blown inland.
Dispatchers for Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties said damage from the storm was limited to trees falling or splintering, with many downing electrical lines.
An Oregon dispatcher recalled receiving a report about a tree down in the South Shores area of the city. Also, a tree fell overnight on West Bancroft Street between Raab and Langenderfer roads in Richfield Township.
Toledo Edison reported more than 1,800 customers still without power in Erie County late Tuesday, including Sandusky, but only scattered outages west of there. American Electric Power reported no significant problems in its northwest Ohio service district.
Consumers Energy said Tuesday that about 935 customers were in the dark in Monroe, Lenawee, and Hillsdale counties, out of about 3,700 affected during the storm. Most were expected to have their lights on again by midnight, spokesman Terry DeDoes said.
Brad Mefferd, president and general manager of Buckeye CableSystem, said the storm on Tuesday morning knocked out cable service, which includes Internet and telephone service, to about 500 customers in the Toledo area but that the service was quickly restored using a backup power system.
Another 20 customers in the Sandusky area lost service, but Mr. Mefferd said both outages were typical for a storm.
By Tuesday afternoon, the storm, which made landfall in New Jersey late Monday, was stalled over western Pennsylvania.
Mark Adams, another meteorologist at the NWS Cleveland office, said effects are likely to linger in the area for several days: “Everything wrapped around this low is just going to take its time and slowly recede to the north, and eventually the northeast."
The National Weather Service forecast calls for periodic rain through Thursday afternoon.
Owens Community College reported Tuesday that several student groups at its Findlay campus had organized a Disaster Relief Supply Drive to collect cleaning supplies, personal-care items, first-aid supplies, bottled water, blankets, and other aid for storm victims.
Donations may be dropped off at the college's atrium area through Nov. 7.
Small businesses and homeowners whose buildings sustained storm damage, meanwhile, may apply for low-interest emergency construction loans through the Renew Ohio and Rebuild Ohio programs administered by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel's office.
Staff writers Jennifer Feehan and Jon Chavez and The Blade's news services contributed to this report.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.