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ST. MARYS — Cleanup continues from Friday’s storm that left thousands across the county without power and caused massive damage from fallen limbs and trees.
Sustained winds of 82 mph with gusts of 90 mph socked the region early Friday afternoon. As crews quickly worked to restore power, some residents were left without power into Sunday, with estimates it could take several more days before power is fully restored to outlying areas.
“Currently all the villages are back up with power, they held it all night,” Auglaize County EMA Director Troy Anderson told The Evening Leader Sunday afternoon. “What we are seeing now are outages with the three main ones — AEP, which is mostly in the eastern portion of the county, has 631 customers out, DP&L has 928 out and Midwest Electric has 1,701 still out in the county.”
Once the Moulton substation is up and running, Anderson said he believes that would take care of the majority of the Midwest Electric customers who are in the dark. Anderson said the Kossuth substation came back online on Saturday.
Crews also have reopened most of the roads that were closed because of fallen trees and power lines. Ohio 364 near Otterbein was reopened Saturday night.
“ODOT and DP&L came in and did a great job working on that,” Anderson said. “People who are traveling on it should use caution because the guardrail on the west side is down. They will be putting it back up when they get time.”
Anderson said he recorded and certified the wind speeds along Kettlersville Road near U.S. 33 on Friday. With speeds reaching 90 mph, Anderson likened the weather event to one that is uncommon to the region.
“This event is equivalent to a hurricane from what we are seeing as far as the damage,” Anderson said.
“It was the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane with the wind speeds we had and the damage we had here in the county. That’s the thing I am looking at. It’s almost the same as when we had the Hurricane Ike wind event.”
Throughout the weekend, residents piled limbs and other debris along roads and swept driveways and sidewalks. As residents continue to clean up properties, Anderson warned against burning any debris in the wake of the dry, hot conditions.
“Don’t burn it because what little rain we have had is not enough to prevent fires,” Anderson said. “Conditions can get worse. Move your debris to sites that we have around the county.”
On Saturday, Gov. John Kasich signed a state of emergency declaration for Ohio. He also requested assistance from FEMA — which Anderson said is available but not in the way most think.
“We have conference calls with the governor and in those, they assess what our greatest needs are, not just Auglaize County, but the greatest needs of all the counties,” Anderson said.
“They look at all the problems and take the big picture and that’s water, ice and fuel ... The governor did request aid from the federal government and that’s where we got FEMA assistance. At the local level, if we make a request for ice and water, the state is able to get those filled and get us assistance. It doesn’t mean, at this point, that assistance is coming like the ice storm. Don’t run out and buy that generator and expect that you’ll get it refunded.”
On Saturday, crews worked to remove limbs and downed trees from Grand Lake St. Marys State Park. Lending a helping hand were sisters Angelia Osborne, 11, and Jasmine Navarro, 13.
“There’s no power and our electronics died so we thought we would come here and help clean it,” Angelia said.
Jasmine said once she saw the widespread damage to the park, she thought helping was the right thing to do.
“It looks terrible,” Jasmine said. “I think people should help out.”
According to a statement released by Midwest Electric this morning, there are pockets across the county without power.
In Noble Township, three residences remain without power, all members in Kossuth remain without power because of a transmission outage, 100 members in Moulton remain without power and transmission services have been restored and there is one customer without power on the Lake substation — which includes rural New Bremen and Minster. All customers, except Kossuth, should be restored by tonight. The Kossuth area could take a few days as crews work on the circuit today.