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UPDATED - Norwalk cleaning up after storm

Scott Seitz2 • Jun 19, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Mother Nature hammered Norwalk on Monday afternoon.

Between 3 and 4 p.m., the heavens opened over the Maple City as anywhere from 1/2 to 3 Inches of rain was reported falling in an hour.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported winds in excess of 60 mph.

(NOTE - To see pictures of the storm damage, click HERE and HERE.)

Trees and power lines were down throughout the city. At 9 p.m., Ohio Edison crews were still working at various sites around Norwalk, trying to restore power to city residents. Those without power could be seen on their porches or in their front yards, mingling with neighbors.

About 500 Norwalk residents remained without power at 9:30 p.m. Officials expect all would have their power restored by late this morning.

The tornado sirens sounded about 3:26 p.m., with various reports of a funnel cloud being spotted near the intersection of Whittlesey Avenue and League Street and heading southwest.

Erie County was also hit hard as the NWS reported a possible funnel cloud in Berlin Township. Tornado warnings were also issued for Huron and Berlin Heights.

Jason Roblin, Huron County emergency management agency director, was monitoring the situation. "We've had no confirmations yet," he said about a tornado.

"I know Erie County was pegged with a tornado warning," Roblin added. "We also had several reports from citizens in Norwalk."

A bit after 3 p.m., the rain and wind were fierce.

Deon Parker, who lives on Rule Street, said he was in his house when he heard "rain and hail and stuff."

He heard a bang, and saw trees knocked down.

"I couldn't believe it," Parker said.

Has Roblin ever seen a storm burst like that?

"Not very often," he said. "We've got a dozen different locations at least with power lines down."

As helicopters whirred overhead, one could also see trees down and junk strewn about.

As EMA director, Roblin said his department reaches out to the Norwalk police and fire departments.

"We have a volunteer pool if needed," he said.

Roblin expects the NWS will be in town to survey the damage.

"I think this is big enough to send someone out," he said.

Roblin thought maybe 1 1/2 or 2 inches of rain fell in that short time. "Maybe more," he added.

Carl Essex, of the Huron County highway department, did not receive one call about roads being blocked out in the county. Within the city limits, however, several roads were closed as crews cleared debris and worked to restore power.

"It absolutely poured here," Essex said about the highway department's location on Jefferson Street.

Essex rated the storm a "3" on a scale of "5."

"Fortunately, all that corn probably sucked up all the rain," he said.

Two vehicles were smashed by tree limbs at 119 E. Main St. A tree hit the back of a house at 52 S. Linwood Ave. A tree on Foster Street took down power lines. Along Woodlawn Avenue and Pine Street, trees and power lines were down. East Main Street was another location where trees had fallen.

Essex said highway department crews were putting the wheels in motion to help the city of Norwalk clean up.

"We do have volunteers available Tuesday to help people clean up their limbs," Roblin said. "I've been on the phone all afternoon looking for volunteers. We've called all 52 and we have 15 available tomorrow. Just give us a call at the EMA, or if our phone lines are down, they can get us at the sheriff's office at (419) 663-2828.

Sydney Chicoteo finds herself among those who could probably use some help.

The Rule Street resident was upstairs cleaning before the storm hit. She said she heard a "boom" caused by a cracked tree demolishing her kitchen and everything in it.

"There's literally nothing left," she said.

Chicoteo added nobody was injured; her friend and family members were upstairs on the north side of the house, away from the kitchen when the storm struck. Chicoteo said she was about to leave the house and closed the windows.

Then the wind started blowing.

"It just basically got worse progressively. It only lasted for three minutes," Chicoteo said, then smiled; she and those closest to her had survived the onslaught unscathed -- except for an encounter with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe. Chicoteo said her friend, Samantha, was upstairs during the storm, when a Marilyn Monroe picture fell and banged her head.

"She's fine now," Chicoteo said.

She was asked what she was thinking as she looked at the demolished portion of her house.

"Honestly I don't know," she said. "I can't even fathom it because it's so ... I never would have (thought) that it would happen right here.

"If any of the girls were in there, we wouldn't be alive," she said about her family.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Reflector Managing Editor Joe Centers and Reporter Aaron Krause contributed to this story.

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