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County under state of emergency after vicious storm
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Saturday, June 30, 2012 12:00 AM

 

By MELINDA KRICK

Progress Editor

 

Nearly all of Paulding County remains without power today in the aftermath of a catastrophic storm that raked much of the Midwest on Friday afternoon. Winds reached more than 80 mph and at least one funnel cloud sighting was reported. No injuries occurred and only scattered structural damage has been reported.

 

Paulding County, as well as Ohio, are under a state of emergency.

 

Randy Shaffer, director of Paulding County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) reported in a telephone interview Saturday evening that there was one report of a funnel cloud from a trained storm spotter near Road 17 south of Ohio 500 near Pleasant Valley Golf Course.

 

Shaffer has no evidence to confirm a funnel cloud or tornado on the ground in the county.

 

The Progress had received a report of an Integrity Ford employee in Paulding who spotted a funnel cloud, but this couldn’t be confirmed.

 

Shaffer said he recorded winds of 84 mph at the EMA office, located at the county fairgrounds, at 2:52 p.m. Friday.

 

In Fort Wayne, wind speeds of 91 mph were recorded.

 

“For the type of winds we had, structural damage was fairly minimal,” Shaffer noted.

 

Among the damages:

 

a mobile home near Oakwood rolled over.

a semi truck flipped on Road 60 west of U.S. 127.

several barns collapsed, including one a couple of miles west of Paulding. Reportedly, the historic round barn in Emerald Township was destroyed.

the roofs of several livestock facilities around the county have been damaged, including a hog barn on Ohio 500 southwest of Paulding.

the roofs of many houses were damaged by falling trees or limbs. Everywhere, damage can be seen to roof shingles. Many commercial buildings also sustained roof damage.

• crops sustained widespread damage, according to Jim Lopshire, OSU Extension agent. The worst he has seen is about a mile north of Paulding, where plants were stripped of leaves.

• north of Payne on Ohio 49, nearly a mile of utility poles are down, sheared off at the ground.

 

Rainfall totaled .52 inch on Friday, Shaffer said. His office recorded .14 inch on Friday morning followed by .38 inch during the afternoon storm. Storm totals varied around the county.

 

Hail of up to a quarter inch was reported.

 

Shaffer said no injuries apparently occurred during the storm; however, a couple of minor mishaps during cleanup operations included one person hit by an electric pole and another hit by a tree limb.

Besides the widespread damage to structures, utility lines and trees, the biggest problem facing residents is the lack of electricity. Most stores are closed, including groceries, gas stations, ATMs and restaurants. A few scattered businesses are open, thanks to generators, but customers must pay cash.

The lack of electricity means no air conditioning in temperatures reaching into the 90s. The forecast is for continued high temperatures.

 

It also means no refrigeration to keep perishable foods.

 

For some rural residents, it means no power to pump water.

 

Cell phone service is spotty.

 

With most people having no electricity, cable TV, cell phone or Internet available, it’s very difficult to receive or send information.

 

Latest estimates call for electricity to be restored in perhaps 3-5 days. The Progress will post updates on its web site and Facebook page as they become available.

 

On Saturday evening AEP Ohio reported it has restored power to approximately 100,000 of the 660,000 customers affected by the devastating storms that moved through the state June 29. Approximately 523,000 remained without power at 9 p.m. Saturday.

 

The storm knocked down transmission structures, poles, power lines and trees across AEP Ohio’s service territory. The central Ohio counties of Franklin, Delaware and Licking were the hardest hit, with approximately 345,000 customers affected, according to an AEP news release.

 

Any local residents needing shelter should contact the EMA office at 419-399-3500. Shaffer said his office has helped several people with medical conditions who need to be in air conditioning. They rested then returned home. Persons needing a place to stay overnight likely would be moved to a shelter in Van Wert. “There’s not enough places in Paulding County with air conditioning to keep people,” he added.

 

The storms that swept through the county left a 650-mile path of damage and death from Chicago to Washington, D.C. More than 10 deaths were recorded and more than a million people were left without power.

 

“The farmers were expecting something unusual to happen to end the drought,” Lopshire observed. “It’s usually been the remnants of a tropical storm or hurricane – nothing like this.”