Nearly 100 Clark County homes damaged in EF-2 tornado, cleanup continues

Minor injuries ‘a testament to the preparedness efforts of our community.’

Clark County residents on Thursday continued to clean up after an EF-2 tornado, the county’s strongest in decades, destroyed eight homes and damaged 85 more early Wednesday morning.

The storm traveled 18.7 miles across eastern Clark County into Madison County starting at 4:52 a.m., reaching maximum wind speeds of 120 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

EMA Director Michelle Clements-Pitstick said at a press conference Thursday the early morning tornado damaged 93 homes, with eight being destroyed — meaning down to the foundation — 12 with major damage, 21 with minor damahe and 52 being affected in any other way. Community partners have come together to assist in cleanup, and the EMA is continuing damage assessment.

Clements-Pitstick said the three individuals who reported injuries were taken to the hospital “out of an abundance of caution.”

Clements-Pitstick said the fact that there were no more injuries is “a testament to the preparedness efforts of our community.”

The most significant damage is around Mitchell Road in Springfield Twp., Clements-Pitstick said.

The warning system — phone notifications, news app notifications, NOAA weather radios and tornado sirens — worked as it was designed, Clements-Pitstick said. Everyone with whom the EMA spoke whose properties were damaged said they were alerted to the tornado in some way.

“The biggest message with the tornado sirens is just please remember that those are meant to be heard outdoors; they’re not meant to wake you up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night,” Clements-Pitstick said.

Wednesday’s storm was the strongest tornado in Clark County in nearly 50 years when two tornadoes hit here on April 3, 1974, the same day as the deadly Xenia tornado.

Clark County had 698 customers still without power as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, with a large portion in Harmony Twp., according to the Ohio Edison outage map. Most of the outages were in Harmony and Springfield townships.

“We continue to do work around the clock in 16-hour shifts to restore power to the customers who remain without (it),” said Lauren Siburkis, spokesperson for Ohio Edison. “We do have utility personnel from less impacted areas helping as well.”

Siburkis said they planned to have customers back up and running by 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

The damage crews are working mainly on downed trees and debris falling into power lines and equipment, but have replaced several broken poles and downed lines as well.

“Safety is our top priority. We still have a lot of tree debris and storm damage that’s out there. Use caution with any tree debris, down or low hanging wire in debris, and if you see any, assume that it’s energized and dangerous and report it to 911,” Siburkis said.

Several businesses offered help to residents whose properties were damaged. In one example, Hooten’s Automotive and Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken donated 100 boxed meals Thursday to support those affected by the storm and tornadoes, according to a message sent to families from the Northeastern Local School District.

The Clark County Fairgrounds also offered help for those who need it, according to a post on its Facebook page.

The fairgrounds opened its showers and restrooms for those affected by the tornado damage. Call the fair office at 937-323-3090 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday to set up a time to use the facilities.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey