Costs still mounting from April wind storm

The early April wind storm that knocked down more than 120 utility poles and left tens of thousands of customers in the Dayton area without heat or light is still having an impact on homeowners and insurance companies.

Insurance companies are still taking claims from area homeowners and businesses following the aftermath of the April 1-2 storm that left considerable wind and hail damage in its wake.

Allstate Insurance flew in adjusters from out of state to assess damage and deal with customer claims, but not all insurers were deluged. A board member of the Ohio Insurance Agents Association, who also is the owner of a Beavercreek insurance agency, said it depended on where people lived in the Miami Valley.

The brunt of the storm seemed to fall on utilities. Meghan Cass, a spokeswoman for Allstate Insurance.

Primarily there was wind damage, but hail damage was also a factor, she said.

“It was a large event for Allstate, certainly,” Cass said.

The Ohio Insurance Institute does not yet have an estimate for the amount of losses caused by the storm.

Allstate flew adjusters to Ohio to assess damages, but Cass declined to say how many. “That’s what they’re used to doing, moving to that location (of storm damage) for a period of time,” she said.

Allstate is Ohio’s second largest home insurer, she said.

The brunt of damage seemed to fall on utilities. The storm knocked power out to more than 30,000 DP&L customers and even knocked down the (now famous) Young’s Dairy sign cow in Clark County.

On Saturday of that early April weekend, wind gusts exceeded 60 mph — they reached 63 mph at Dayton International Airport.

Bruce Coppock, DP&L operations director, said at the time that winds in Miami County were “the highest recorded winds we’ve seen in our territory.”

The power utility said the storm was one of the top 15 events the company has faced in the past dozen years. DP&L initially reported more than 70 downed transmission poles at the time — more were reported knocked down — which included 22 just on Experiment Farm Road in the Troy area.

Mary Anne Kabel, a spokeswoman for DP&L, said last week that all necessary permanent repairs were completed by April 6. Power was restored to all utility customers in 48 hours. In all, 127 utility poles went down in DP&L territory, she said.

“That’s a phenomenal timeframe to get all that done,” Kabel said.

Coppock last week said that in terms of customers affected, the April storm was the 16th largest event for DP&L since 2003.

The wind derecho in 2012 was its second largest event and the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in September 2008 remains the biggest, Coppock said.

Sally Thelen, a Duke Energy spokeswoman, said the storm was nowhere near as massive as the 2008 Ike aftermath.

“It was definitely a storm that I would describe as wide-ranging in terms of counties and residents affected,” Thelen said.

Duke serves about 690,000 customers in Southwestern Ohio. DP&L has about 515,000 customers in West Central Ohio.

Eric Elwell, WHIO-TV chief meteorologist, said the storm featured several hours of sustained 60 mph-70 mph winds, slamming into rain-soaked trees and branches, many of which were likely ready to be knocked down after several weeks of high-wind events.

“Straight-line winds can be just as dangerous and damaging as tornadoes,” said WHIO-TV meteorologist Carrieann Marit.

The area was fortunate not to have seen more claims, said Perk Reichley, owner of Beavercreek’s Reichley Insurance, and a board member at the Ohio Insurance Agents Association.

“I didn’t get a lot of claims from that event,” Reichley said. “Those things can be more spotty than you think. Sometimes, here lately, those wind storms can go north or south of our primary (coverage) area.”

Blake Smallwood, a claims coordinator for The Cincinnati Insurance Companies, said he has seen worse wind storms. Claims were concentrated in the Kettering, Centerville, Middletown and Springboro areas, he said.

”..it has been steady,” he added. “We’ve been getting a couple (of new claims) a week. But nothing over the top.”

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