The severe weather that lashed Wauseon on Sunday caused enough havoc to keep street crews busy through most of this week.
The accompanying winds also severely damaged one of Archbold’s major businesses.
Thunderstorms with fierce winds began blowing through Wauseon around noon, uprooting trees, scattering tree limbs, and downing power lines. Large trees and limbs felled across Oak and Elm streets made both impassable, and similar hazards were reported on Franklin, Marshall, and Brunell streets, among others.
Fire Chief Rick Sluder said the department cordoned off the hardest hit areas of the city to keep out traffic. Fire crews also surveyed downed electrical lines and other damage over a nine-hour period, and helped trim trees so roads could reopen.
There were no reports of storm-related fires. “We had a few smoke investigation calls from people but we didn’t have anything major,” Sluder said. “Fortunately, we came out pretty much unscathed.”
Wauseon police worked until about 6 p.m. coordinating blocking off areas of the city and accessing damage. The department requested through its Facebook page and other outlets that residents stay indoors while the clean-up continued and Toledo Edison secured damaged power lines. Some residents had to be directed away from their homes.
“We told them to stay in and don’t worry about the debris until Edison was able to get everything safe and secure,” Chief Keith Torbet said. “Just stay in place and let the crews work. That was the hardest thing for people to do. What they don’t understand is, just because you don’t have a downed line in your yard doesn’t mean you can’t get electrocuted.”
Torbet said the last time he witnessed a storm with so much ferocity was back in the mid-2000s. “I can’t recall trees this size being uprooted. The trees were completely pulled over by their roots in the wind,” he said.
Public Works crews were called out at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and concentrated on opening affected roads to traffic. They began a ground clean-up on Monday, and continued for another couple of days.
Superintendent John Arps said the worst storm damage occurred between Oak and Elm streets, where he estimated that two or three homes on each block were harmed. The crews were tasked with removing between 10-15 trees maimed or knocked down by the wind, and with removing tree limbs hung up on phone lines.
“This is the worst I’ve seen,” he said of the storm damage.
At Wauseon High School, the scoreboard on the athletic field was pitched to the ground after the poles supporting it were snapped at the base. Speakers attached to it were also destroyed.
“It doesn’t look salvageable,” said Matt Hutchinson, the athletic director.
Other victims of wind damage at the field include the canopy on top of the press box, the goal post at the east end of the field, a pole in the discus throw area, an admission booth and a set of small bleachers at the running track, the visitors’ concession stand, and the west ticket booth.
Some of the damage is reparable, and Hutchinson said it’s important to keep it in perspective. “In the big picture, these are minor details compared to damage homeowners have faced,” he said.
Fulton County Sheriff Roy Miller said the department received calls from both Wauseon and Archbold following the storm, but otherwise “it was pretty quiet.”
Con Agra Grocery Products Co. in Archbold suffered extensive damage, primarily to its roof. The facility will be shut down the remainder of the week. A company spokesperson was not available.
Archbold Fire Chief David Davis said crews responded to a fire alarm at the company that was tripped when the building lost power. He said the crews remained on the scene to access damage and ensure the building’s utilities were secured.
The village itself experienced minor problems from the storm. Jason Martz, superintendent of streets, said flooding occurred when fallen leaves clogged a catch basin, and the village’s north side and a portion of the south side lost power for several hours.
He said the only tree damage was a large limb that fell in Ruihley Park.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.
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