High winds knock out power to thousands

No injuries but plenty of tree damage in Clark, Champaign counties.

A severe thunderstorm that tore through Clark and Champaign counties late Thursday and early Friday toppled trees and power lines, knocking out power for more than 4,000 customers at one point and leaving hundreds of residents without electricity until later today.

The worst of the storm lasted only a few minutes, said Myron Padgett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington. Winds locally reached speeds of between 50 to 60 miles per hour, enough to damage trees and power lines or cause minor structural damage.

In Clark County, more than 4,000 residents lost power at the height of the storm, said Tim Suter, a spokesman for Ohio Edison.

Power was restored to most residents by Friday afternoon, but about 380 homes were still dark, and Suter said those projects will take the most time to restore. Those outages, which were scattered throughout Clark County, could include removing fallen trees or power lines, and he said power would likely not be back on until sometime today.

“There’s quite a bit of work to be done,” Suter said.

The worst of the storm struck areas like Vandalia, where the National Weather Service confirmed an EF1 tornado ripped through that city with wind speeds of about 110 miles per hour, leaving 10 people injured. The storm there also damaged a drive-thru business and blew out the windows of a Fricker’s restaurant on Foley Drive. All the injuries occurred at the restaurant.

An EF0 tornado was reported in nearby Miami County, where winds reached about 70 miles per hour and destroyed a barn in the northeastern part of the county.

The damage was not as severe in Champaign County. There, about 91 power outages were reported, but all were restored by Thursday afternoon, said Laurie Denger, a spokeswoman for DP&L.

Champaign County emergency dispatchers said tree limbs were damaged throughout the county, and one barn just being built was leveled, but no injuries were reported.

Clark County work crews were dispatched Friday morning to clear roads and clean up tree limbs, working for three or four hours, said Jonathan Burr, Clark County engineer. Most of the work was finished early on, and crews returned to work later in the morning to clean up any remaining debris.

In Clark County, the storm seemed to follow a path along U.S. 40, striking areas like Enon, Mad River, Springfield and Hustead the hardest, said Lisa D’Allessandris, director of the Clark County Emergency Management Agency. Her office did not receive any major reports of damage despite the heavy winds, she said.

In Springfield, City Service Director Chris Moore said the majority of the damage happened in the Ridgewood neighborhood, as well as near Maiden Lane. He said crews began clearing roads at 1 a.m. and worked all morning cleaning up sidewalks and brush in the streets.

National Trail Parks and Recreation District Director Leann Castillo said crews cleared off the road at Snyder Park early Friday morning, but several fell on the railroad tracks.

“If you drive through here, there are trees down everywhere,” Castillo said. “They did a great job cleaning off the roads.”

Crews worked to remove trees from the railroad and repair the tracks.

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