Mid-Ohio Valley spared heavy storm damage

From staff, wire reports

The Mid-Ohio Valley experienced thunderstorms early Thursday but avoided the major damage that some thought was possible, as a derecho failed to materialize.

Storms with swift, straight-line winds soaked parts of Ohio, damaging trees and barns and leaving many without power early Thursday as commuters dodged fallen branches on roads and faced backups at intersections where traffic lights were out.

Straight-line winds topping 70 mph were reported and more than two dozen tornado warnings were issued as two rounds of storms pummeled the state, but no twisters have been confirmed, said Phillip Johnson, who was part of the team monitoring developments for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

Late Thursday morning, AEP Ohio was reporting no outages in Washington or surrounding counties. Outages remained in Lawrence, Scioto, Pike, Ross, Jackson, Fairfield, Licking, Delware, Morrow, Richland, Stark and Belmont counties in the state.

Only Stark, Jackson and Franklin counties had power outages affected more than 2,000 households or businesses.

Late Wednesday, officials around the state had been preparing for a storm potentially as damaging as the derecho windstorm that struck last June 29, causing widespread and longlasting power outages during a heat wave.

Terri Flora, director of communications for AEP Ohio, said Wednesday afternoon that the company was preparing to address potential outages in its service area.

“We’ve already requested approximately 300 line personnel and 150 assessors…they’re coming from a variety of locations,” she said. “As we see how this impacts us, we will get more.”

There is a potential for more storms later this week but none are forecast as severe.

Those who experience emergencies or issues related to power outages or storm damages can call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 376-7070, Ext. 0 or the Washington County Emergency Management Agency at 373-5613.

EMA Director Jeff Lauer said extra phone lines and Internet cables have been installed since last June’s derecho windstorm that led to massive power outages.

Should the area be hard hit by storms this summer, the emergency headquarters will be the second floor of the sheriff’s office until a new county Emergency Operations Center is complete on Davis Avenue in Marietta.

Lauer said updates will be posted to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and provided to local media.

If there is a need, a rapid notify system will call local residents with information.

“We hope people are prepared this time,” said Lauer. “The most important thing is just to take care of yourself and your neighbors.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, it is important to remain calm and be prepared. Food safety is a definite concern. CDC guidelines are as follows, “A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.”

Milk and other dairy products should be kept in a cooler with ice. If the food is questionable, discard it.

Safe drinking water may be a concern. It is always a good idea to keep a few bottles of water just in case. The CDC also advises not using contaminated water to “wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.”

It is also important to remember that going to the store after a weather event is not the best option. Be prepared by having batteries.

The CDC recommends, “that people make an emergency plan that includes a disaster supply kit. This kit should include enough water, dried and canned food, and emergency supplies (flashlights, batteries, first-aid supplies, prescription medicines, and a digital thermometer) to last at least three days. Use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles, gas lanterns or torches (to minimize risk of fire).”