The weather sure has been crazy so far this year. From very warm in March to cooler & drier in April and May then back to the heat in June. But Mother Nature saved her worst so far this year when strong storms raced across Ohio last Friday. Fueled by high temperatures and high humidity, storms packing hail and winds over 80 mph slammed through the state. We were on the leading edge of the carnage as Northwest Ohio was the first region to get clobbered.
It only took about fifteen minutes of heavy rain and high winds for the storm to inflict its damage. Trees uprooted and limbs broken... power lines down and power poles snapped off. We even had TWO main water line breaks attributed to the storm. As the storm left the area, the fire department found itself fighting three separate structure fires at the same time and most all streets were closed with the fallen debris. Power went out immediately and for some of American Electric Power's 14,000+ customers here in Hancock County, it won't be restored for at least five more days at the time of this writing (July 2). At the height of the storm state-wide, there were over 650,000 AEP customers without power.
As we were out and about immediately after the storm, I noticed that the crossing gate had been broken by the wind so I called CSX to report the damage. You may not know this, but the crossings have signs with emergency numbers for you to call. The signs also have the exact milepost of the crossing and a reference number so that the person on the other end of the line knows exactly where you are and can pinpoint the crossing you are referencing. The gentleman I spoke to said that they had been extremely busy fielding calls since the storm went through earlier in the afternoon.
The good news is that I've heard nothing about any fatalities and only a few reports of serious injuries. Our local hospital reported nothing more serious than some cuts & bruises from flying debris during the height of the storm. Soon after the storm had passed, people were out checking on each other; neighbor helping neighbor with total strangers pitching in as well. This is certainly encouraging and it amazes me how it takes something like for us to show our best.
It appears that it will take quite some time before things get back to normal and all of the damage is cleaned up. But we will all pull togehter and will get it done.