Many area residents continue to dig themselves out of the aftermath of Wednesday afternoon’s severe thunderstorm.
Trees and power lines were down all over the Firelands.
Many customers, especially in Bellevue, might not have power restored until Saturday. As of 11 p.m. Thursday, 1,824 Ohio Edison customers were without power in that city, and an additional 115 in nearby Lyme Township. That accounted for nearly all of the 1,990 Huron County customers still experiencing an outage.
In Erie County, 457 Ohio Edison customers were without power, and 341 of those were in Milan Township.
All but four Firelands Electric Cooperative customers had their power restored by 11 p.m.
(NOTE - To see reader-submitted pictures of the storm damage, click HERE.)
Jason Roblin, Huron County emergency management agency director, has been compiling information and visiting the damaged areas since the storm hit.
“First of all, we’re glad there are no reports of serious injuries or deaths,” he said. “Yes, there is a mess and even if it is a big mess, it can always be cleaned up.”
Bellevue had 14 power poles down on Gardner Road.
“There are a number of windows broken in the downtown Bellevue area, with the glass all over Main Street,” Roblin said.
“There was also a section on Ohio 113 in Lyme Township with a lot of tree damage,” Roblin added. “There was tree damage in Monroeville and the area on League Street in Norwalk has heavy tree damage.
“Looking around the county, it looks like someone ran their hands through the sand,” Roblin said about damage. “There’s really no rhyme or reason. It’s impressive.”
The Norwalk Reflector published a photo (submitted by Steven Summerland and shown above) of what appeared to be a funnel cloud on Ohio 18 near Bellevue.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Bellevue and another one, which originated in Seneca County's Reed Township, traveled 10 miles into Huron County.
“Whether there was a tornado or straight-line winds, they both can kill you,” Roblin added.
“The damage path was basically west to east,” Roblin said. “Plymouth was out of power and Willard had corn lying flat.”
Roblin said small, free flooding cleanup kits are available at the EMA office on Shady Lane Drive, courtesy of the American Red Cross.
Roblin said Thursday The Bellevue Hospital had power and was assisting residents in filling oxygen tanks.
Huron County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ted Patrick was also out in the county assessing the damage.
“Lyme, Sherman, Ridgefield and Peru townships were all hit hard,” Patrick said. “There were corn stalks 6-foot high before the storm that are now laying flat. There are trees and power lines down everywhere.”
Patrick said deputies John Vogel and Brad Polachek were in Bellevue, assisting with recovery Thursday.
“We’ve had no reports of any injuries,” he added.
The entire village of Plymouth and some areas outside the limits on Plymouth East Road were without power Thursday afternoon.
American Electric Power (AEP) crews were expected to restore power within four hours, a village clerk reported at 1:15 p.m. Plymouth’s population is 1,857.
Huron River Joint Fire District Chief Tom Beck said his department was busy Wednesday.
“We were hit pretty hard,” he said. “We had power lines down, trees down and a lot of water. We had five or six calls — two before the storm hit.”
The two early calls involved water rescues, one involving a car and another involving two boaters. Neither required assistance when firefighters arrived.
“The rest of the calls came after 3:15 and were storm related,” Beck said. “We were busy, that’s for sure.”
On a side note, Beck said he was in Bellevue when the storm hit there.
“They got it a lot worse than we did,” he said. “It was terrible.”
Sandy Waggoner, coordinator of the Huron County Emergency Response Team, said volunteers will be out helping with cleanup.
“Our team of volunteers is available to assist elderly, disabled and other residents who have special circumstances that make it difficult to clean up their property of debris after this afternoon’s storm,” Waggoner said.
“We will remove branches and other storm debris from yards and take it to the boulevards for them. They can ask us to help by either calling the EMA at (419) 663-5772 or calling me at (419) 602-0758 or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We will schedule a volunteer team to come help as requests come in. We are available to assist anyone in Huron, Erie or Ottawa counties. We want to make sure our availability is made known to those communities hardest hit, especially Norwalk, Bellevue, Monroeville, Milan, Greenwich and New London,” she said.